Nations Gather to Battle Spam

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 10, 2004 | Go to article overview

Nations Gather to Battle Spam


Byline: Tim Lemke, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Developing countries need help in fighting the tidal wave of junk e-mail known as spam, but also must pass tough laws to address the problem, government and technology experts said this week.

At a conference in Geneva sponsored by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the United Nations' telecommunications arm, more than 60 countries agreed to ramp up efforts to pass national laws to curb spam and help one another catch spammers.

But more must be done in places like Africa and the Middle East to deal with spam, where the knowledge and resources to deal with it are limited, experts said.

"The cost of spam falls particularly heavily" on less-developed nations, said John Levine, chairman of an antispam research group organized by the Internet Engineering Task Force. "To the extent that we can have technical solutions that keep them from having to deal with spam at all ... that will be of great assistance to them."

ITU members, in response to questions from Kenyan and Syrian officials, suggested that developing nations turn to spam filters and other technologies created using free, "open source" programming. But they also recommended that the governments of developing nations pass strict antispam laws similar to those in industrialized nations.

Currently, no country in the Middle East or Africa has an antispam law, making it nearly impossible for them to partner with industrialized nations to go after spammers using legal means.

International cooperation has become essential, officials said, because spammers routinely send their messages from one nation to another. Even messages that are sent and received in the same country are routed through other nations including China, Brazil and Russia. …

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