ACMA: International collaboration on spam critical

Overseas countries learning from Australian regulation

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is encouraging more countries to start anti-spam groups.

It is hosting a three day Joint London Action Plan (LAP) – European Contact Networks of Spam Authorities (CNSA) in Sydney which is being held in the Southern Hemisphere for the first time.

Countries taking part in the workshops include the US, UK, New Zealand, Canada, South Korea, Turkey, Indonesia and Japan.

ACMA anti-spam manager, Julia Cornwell McKean, said spam is a global problem and international cooperation needs to be multifaceted.

“There is an exchange of information in the context of investigation and cooperation in terms of sharing experiences," she said. "In the past couple of days I’ve come across three jurisdictions (Malaysia, Taiwan and Canada) which are about to have new spam laws. They are learning from us how they can start up their own spam investigation team.”

She said this would help Australians because spam from these countries will decrease.

Collaboration between countries has helped catch spammers. ACMA's investigation into alleged spammer Lance Thomas Atkinson This was conducted with the assistance of the United States Federal Trade Commission and the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs, both of which also took action against Atkinson. The investigation resulted in the issue of a penalty of $210,000 at the Federal Court in Brisbane in 2009.

According to McKean, before the Spam Act was introduced in 2003, Australia was in the top 10 list of most spammed countries but currently holds position 29.

McKean said the meetings and workshops are important for global spam regulators because spammers are jurisdiction hopping.

“For example, laws were changed in China where domain names were being registered with .cn and almost immediately spammers moved to Russian domain names because Russia doesn't have anti-spam laws.”

The danger of non-collaboration is that some countries continue to be spam and scam havens.

“We have some jurisdictions that we have difficulty penetrating because they don’t come to these workshops and we don’t have contacts with them," she said. "Russia is one culprit and we want to get these countries on board. "The benefits of these sorts of meetings are not just in terms of evidence but they are also about learning different ways to combat spammers. That is our ultimate mission but by sharing experiences we all become better regulators."

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