In a rare alliance, Chinese and American technology experts are working to curb spam.
And next month, they plan to release a joint report, Fighting Spam to Build Trust the first product of bilateral talks between members of the EastWest Institute, a global think tank with locations in New York, Brussels and Moscow, and the Internet Society of China, a consortium of Chinese technology companies.
The report offers spam-reduction recommendations for senior policymakers, network operators, internet service providers and members of the private sector, said Karl Rauscher, chief technology officer of the EastWest Institute, who led the discussions.
“This is the first time the United States and China have worked together to fight spam,” Rauscher said.
The report will call for protocols to distinguish legitimate messages from spam and encouraged ISPs in both countries to use “feedback loops” to allow email recipients to blacklist suspicious senders, Rauscher said. And it will emphasize the private sector's role in reducing spam and call for consumer education around the risk of botnets.
Unwanted emails were a big problem, accounting for 87 percent to 95 percent of email, said Michael O'Reirdan, chairman of the nonprofit Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group. Spam was a prime vector for malware distribution.
The group held a conference last week in Orlando where the report was previewed.
Those involved in the report's creation focused on mitigating spam because China has made strides to reduce the proliferation of unsolicited email in recent years, even as internet use rapidly has spread throughout the country.
“This cooperative effort will not end with this report,” said Yonglin Zhou, director of the network security committee of the Internet Society of China, who co-led the talks with Rauscher.
“Rather, it is a part of an ongoing process between Chinese and United States experts to open dialogue and foster mutual understanding.”
The US is the world's top purveyor of spam, according to a recent Sophos study. China did not make the top-12 list, but the Asian country recently ranked as the top hoster of web links contained in unwanted mail, according to an IBM X-Force Report.
Meanwhile, US President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao last month issued a joint statement agreeing to cooperate further on cybersecurity issues.