This is a request to ask the OECD Consumer Policy Committee to put on its work program efforts to find consensus on global actions to address the problem of spam. The OECD should show leadership in addressing what has become the top consumer protection problem for the Internet --- the explosion of spam. Many people now find it difficult to use email, and the costs of spam are increasing every day. The FTC now receives approximately 10 thousand forwards of spam every day, and appears to have no program to address this problem.
We are realistic about the problems in finding consensus on a wide range of possible spam issues, and we are not asking you to do this in the short term. We are specifically asking the FTC and the OECD to determine where there are areas of consensus that can be reached. We believe this is achievable, if any effort is directed at this problem. For example, a simple agreement that countries should prohibit persons from sending unsolicited commercial email from accounts with forged addresses and mail headers would be very useful. It would also be useful agree to require senders of such messages to identify the real names and address of the firm making the solicitation. Thus, even if global consensus is not achievable right now on issues such as opt-in or opt-out, you can do things that will make things better. The fact that this has not happened already is evidence that public officials have not made much of an effort to address the problem.
We have been pushing for global action on spam for several years, noting also that this is the topic of resolutions adopted by the Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue. Contrast the lack of attention to complaints about spam, which are a daily headache for millions of angry email users, including children who receive pornographic spam and elderly persons who receive countless fraud schemes every day, with the massive effort by federal and global agencies to address such issues as invalid addresses in domain name registrations and other efforts designed to protect intellectual property owners. The FTC needs to act even when the parties who need action do not have high priced lobbyists.
Consumer Project on Technology