The Federal Trade Commission has joined forces with agencies around the world to combat spam on a global level with an Action Plan on Spam Enforcement. On October 11, 2004, 19 agencies from 15 countries announced the Action Plan at a conference of international spam enforcement agencies in London. The Action Plan calls for increased investigative training, the establishment of points of contact in each agency to respond quickly and effectively to enforcement inquiries, and the creation of an international working group on spam enforcement. The Action Plan builds on prior efforts of international organizations such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the International Telecommunications Union, the European Union, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperative Forum toward building international cooperation on spam.
The conference, hosted by the FTC and the United Kingdom’s Office of Fair Trading, is the first international forum to address spam enforcement issues exclusively. Consumer protection, data protection, and telecommunications agencies from more than 20 countries gathered to promote greater cross-border cooperation in the fight against spam and related problems like Internet fraud and computer viruses. The conference participants discussed ways to improve international communication to ensure quick cooperation on spam investigations.
“We are all united by a common goal: to stop deceptive and fraudulent spam from flooding our e-mail boxes, threatening our data security, and undermining e-mail’s effectiveness as a tool for commerce and communication,” said FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras. She emphasized the importance of instant information-sharing. “Spammers move fast; we must move even faster,” she said.
The conference included sessions on the comparative enforcement power of various government agencies, investigative techniques, cooperation with the private sector, and the development of an effective international law enforcement framework to fight spam through multilateral agreements between agencies. Some attendees at the conference also will be participating in training sessions on October 12, 2004 hosted by the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network on how to conduct spam investigations.
“We look forward to having other governments and appropriate private-sector representatives endorse the Action Plan,” Chairman Majoras said. “As a global community, we can send a message to those spammers who saturate our in-boxes: You can no longer use a national border as a shield from law enforcement. The world is watching you, and together we will stop you.”
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are available to take complaints), or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.