Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft

Commissioner Liikanen calls for more international cooperation to combat 'spam'


DN: IP/04/136 Date: 02/02/2004



Brussels, 2nd February 2004

Commissioner Liikanen calls for more international cooperation to combat 'spam'

Enterprise and Information Society Commissioner Erkki Liikanen today called for global cooperation against 'spam' at a two-day OECD workshop in Brussels. Building on efforts by many countries to combat 'spam', the OECD should rapidly agree a five-point framework to promote effective legislation against spam, cooperation between enforcement agencies, self-regulation by industry, technical solutions, and greater consumer awareness.

"Spam is a global problem that requires global action", Erkki Liikanen said. "If we want to combat spam effectively, efforts made in the European Union and other regions of the world must be echoed by similar efforts at the international level, not only by governments but also businesses and consumers".

Unsolicited commercial communications by e-mail, otherwise known as 'spam', have reached worrying proportions. More than 50 percent of EU e-mail traffic was estimated to be spam in December 2003(1). Global estimates are even more worrying.

Spam is a problem for many reasons: invasion of privacy, deception of consumers, and potential harm to minors. It also causes extra costs for businesses, lost productivity, etc. More generally, it undermines consumer confidence, which is a prerequisite for the success of e- commerce and, indeed, for the Information Society.

The EU has reacted by agreeing a 'ban on spam' in 2002. EU Member States had until the end of October 2003 to adapt national laws accordingly. In January 2004, the Commission presented a Communication identifying a series of actions to complement these rules and make the 'ban on spam' as effective as possible. International cooperation is a key component of this policy, since most spam comes from outside the country where it is received.

At the UN level, the World Summit on the Information Society recently recognised that spam should be dealt with at appropriate national and international levels (Geneva, 10-12 December 2003).

At OECD level, the Commission offered to host today's workshop to generate a better understanding of spam among all OECD member countries and build consensus on the next steps to be taken.

According to Commissioner Liikanen, an OECD framework should aim to promote:

An effective 'anti-spam' law in all countries;

Cross-border cooperation on enforcement in specific cases;

Self-regulatory solutions by market players e.g. on contractual and marketing practices;

Technical solutions to manage or reduce spam, like filtering and other security features;

Greater consumer awareness about, e.g., how to minimise spam and how to react to spam and complain.

Background information

Background information on the OECD workshop on spam, as well as the Commission Communication on unsolicited commercial communication or 'spam' is available via: nt_spotlights/spam/index_en.htm

(1) Source: Brightmail, 2004.