The FTC has joined its foreign partners in calling for stepped up cross-border law enforcement cooperation and increased public/private sector cooperation to combat spam. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) issued recommendations in this area today. The OECD is an international forum of 30 countries, including the United States, established to promote economic growth, trade, and development.
Spam is a vehicle for deception, for spreading viruses and spyware, and for inducing consumers to provide confidential information that can later be used to commit identity theft. Spam poses unique challenges for law enforcement in that senders can send their messages from anywhere in the world to anyone in the world, thus making spam an international problem that must be addressed through international cooperation. The OECD’s specific recommendations to address these challenges include the following:
- Government enforcement agencies should have the necessary authority to take action against spammers located in their territory or against foreign spammers who target consumers in their territory.
- Government enforcement agencies should have the ability to share information with foreign law enforcement officials in appropriate cases.
- Government enforcement agencies should have the ability to provide investigative assistance to foreign authorities in appropriate cases, particularly in obtaining information or locating or identifying people.
- Government enforcement agencies should partner with industry and consumer groups to educate users and promote information sharing.
- Government enforcement agencies should cooperate with the private sector to facilitate the location and identification of spammers.
- Countries should cooperate in international enforcement efforts; efforts to reduce the incidence of inaccurate information about holders of domain names; and efforts to make the Internet more secure.
The FTC has implemented many of the OECD recommendations. For example, it has engaged in aggressive law enforcement against international spammers; worked with an international network of spam enforcement authorities; partnered with the private sector on consumer education; and encouraged the private sector to implement domain-level authentication systems. In addition, the FTC has suggested that Congress enact legislation called the US SAFE WEB Act that would give the FTC new tools to cooperate with foreign counterparts in fighting spam and other types of cross-border fraud.
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/ftc/complaint.htm. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to thousands of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.