Canada Forms Spam Task Force, Seeks International Cooperation

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Though the Canadian government formed a task force this week to combat the flood of unsolicited commercial e-mail, officials acknowledged that isolated national efforts are doomed to fail.

The Spam Task Force is to devise legislative, regulatory and technology suggestions for combating spam. The 10-member task force includes Internet service executives, marketing industry trade groups, anti-spam activists and academics.

Still, minister of industry Lucienne Robillard said such national efforts need to be part of international cooperation to pursue spammers across borders. Ninety-five percent of spam messages Canadians receive come from outside Canada, she said.

"It seems to me that only working on the international level together will we be able to overcome this problem," she said at a news conference.

Robillard said Canada would work within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Group.

The minister's sentiments on international cooperation echo those of the European Union, which has pushed for further international cooperation on spam. Brightmail estimates that spam accounts for more than half of worldwide e-mail traffic. According to an analysis of worldwide spam sources done by British spam-filter company Sophos, the United States is the source for the majority of spam. Canada ranked a distant No. 2, responsible for 7 percent.

In the fall, the Canadian government expects to hold a conference with marketers, consumers and anti-spam groups to discuss the plan's progress. The Spam Task Force is to report back to the Canadian government with its findings next spring.

Robillard said Canada might enact national legislation against spam but cautioned that it would not solve the problem based on the results of the U.S. CAN-SPAM Act.

"I'm told the number of spam in the States is increasing," she said. "Just the legislative action is not enough."

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