U.S., UK, Australia to Cooperate on Spam Cases

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The Federal Trade Commission said Friday that it signed a cooperation agreement with its counterparts in the United Kingdom and Australia to share information of and cooperate in tracking down and prosecuting spammers.

The six national regulatory agencies agreed to share evidence, assist in spam-related prosecutions and coordinate cross-border law enforcement as much as their national laws permit.

The UK agencies involved are the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry; Information Commissioner; and Office of Fair Trading. Australian agencies are the Competition and Consumer Commission and Australian Communications Authority. The FTC joined the agreement for the United States.

The pact aims to foster cooperation among the agencies in addressing the international nature of many spam operations. The agencies will convene a meeting of law enforcement agencies globally in London in October.

"Illegal spam does not respect national boundaries," FTC chairman Timothy Muris said in a statement. "This agreement is an important next step to help law enforcers on three continents leverage resources to combat illegal spam."

Unlike the UK and Australia, the United States does not define spam as unsolicited commercial e-mail. Instead, the CAN-SPAM Act forbids fraudulent e-mail and requires e-mailers to honor consumer unsubscribe requests.

The agreement addresses potential violations of U.S. law, such as sending e-mail with deceptive content or without an unsubscribe option. According to research released recently by spam-filtering company Commtouch, the United States accounts for more than half of the world's unsolicited commercial e-mail.

The FTC already had signed similar agreements with the same agencies in the UK and Australia to assist in consumer protection matters.

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