Aust joins global spam battle

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Two Australian government agencies have joined an international campaign aimed at persuading companies to close open relays and proxies, in a bid to reduce the amount of spam.

Two Australian government agencies have joined an international campaign aimed at persuading companies to close open relays and proxies, in a bid to reduce the amount of spam.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Australian Communications Authority (ACA) are taking part in an international campaign to educate companies about the need to close open relays and proxies.

The campaign is headed by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), with 36 agencies from 26 countries taking part. Dubbed 'Operation secure your server', the aim is to persuade organisations to close open relays and proxies to reduce the amount of unsolicited commercial email.

"As part of the initiative, the participating agencies have identified tens of thousands of owners or operators of potentially open relay or open proxy servers around the world and are sending letters urging them to protect themselves from becoming unwitting sources of spam," according to an ACCC statement.

John Haydon, executive manager for the consumer and universal service obligation group at the ACA, told iTnews that the international dimension in combating spam was very important. "Especially for Australia, because the fraction of spam that is locally originated and terminated is very small," Haydon said. "Most of the spam Australians are suffering under originates overseas."

The ACA will be responsible for enforcing new federal spam legislation, which was passed late last year. Haydon said that during 2004 he expected codes for ISPs that would coordinate and cement the type of actions they would take to help prevent spam getting onto the internet. It also expected to have separate codes of practices with direct marketing organisations.

Graeme Samuel, ACCC chairman, said that international cooperation was going to play an important role in combating spam. "Government cannot solve the spam problem on its own," Samuel said. "Everyone with an internet connection must do their part to make sure that they are part of the solution and not part of the problem."

According to the US FTC's website, open relays and proxies are servers that allow any computer to 'bounce' or route email through servers of other organisations, disguising the real origin of the email. "Spammers often abuse these servers to flood the internet with unwanted email," it stated. "Their abuses not only overload servers, but also could damage an unwitting business' reputation if it appears that the business sent the spam."

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