Heavyweights tackle spam

Heavyweights tackle spam

The fightback against spam has begun. The Internet Industry Association (IIA), Telstra and the Federal Government are cracking down on the increasing flood of unsolicited email being delivered to Net users.

The National Office for the Information Economy (NOIE) said that last year Australians received more than 1 billion spam emails — that’s more than double the figure for the previous year.

The IIA’s anti-spam campaign will use technologies available to reduce the spam and send the message that spam is not welcome in Australia.

IIA CEO, Peter Coroneos, said the association wanted users to free themselves and their email from the spam that was flooding in.

“We want to encourage young people to use the Internet, at home and at school, so we are showing them the way to do so safely by reducing the marketing of pornography, pharmaceuticals and illegal goods directly to them,” he said.

Chief of Telstra’s dial-up service, BigPond, Justin Milne, welcomed the move from the IIA.

He said that the anti-spam awareness campaign was a great way to highlight how people could minimise the amount of spam they received.

“Spam is an industry-wide problem that requires an industry-wide solution,” he said. “We applaud the IIA taking this leadership role in tackling spam and arranging for the participating spam filter vendors to offer their services for one month free.

“Improved spam protection should reduce the exposure to much unwelcome material distributed via email.”

BigPond is identifying heavy loads of spam from specific IP addresses. From this it can prevent the rate of emails from that IP address. While this does not completely prevent spam, according to BigPond it greatly reduces the impact of spamming as it hinders the delivery process.

“We [BigPond] are looking at further measures to help reduce spam and are constantly evaluating new products and mechanisms that may help prevent it reaching our customers,” Milne said.

Blueprint for action

A report prepared by NOIE after open consultation with many sectors of industry and the community, concludes that Australians are tired of spam emails touting black market drugs, celebrity porn, bogus prizes, sexual stimulants, Nigerian money laundering schemes and other false and/or fraudulent material.

In light of its findings, NOIE has proposed legislation to ban spam.

The legislation changes will make offenders liable for punishment through the Australian court system.

Federal Minister for Communications and IT, Senator Richard Alston welcomed a new initiative from NOIE.

He said the report provided a blueprint for government, industry and users to start making inroads against the problem.

“This initiative demonstrates that the Internet industry will work together with Government to help provide Australians with the tools to combat spam,” he said.

PROPOSED LEGISLATION The National Office for the Information Economy legislation proposal includes the following:

The introduction of national legislation banning the sending of commercial electronic messaging without the prior consent of end users unless there is an existing customer-business relationship.

The requirement for all commercial electronic messaging to contain accurate details of the sender’s name and physical and electronic addresses.

Collaboration with industry bodies to implement codes of practice to ensure the compliance of their members with national legislation.

Requirement for ISPs to make available to clients filtering options from an approved schedule of spam filtering tools at reasonable cost, and to evaluate and publicise spam filtering options and products.

Australia working together with international organisations such as OECD and APEC to develop global guidelines and cooperative mechanisms to combat spam.

The development of a major information campaign to raise awareness of the nature of spam, provide simple technical advice and a basic guide to anti-spam products.

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