The Office of Fair Trading, a UK government organisation set up to protect consumers, has launched a new initiative to protect internet users from spam and misleading websites. The OFT are promoting global co-operation at a conference in London today bringing together consumer protection, data protection and telecommunications agencies from more than 20 countries.
John Vickers, OFT Chair, said in a statement: “Spam is not just annoying and intrusive. It gets in the way of legitimate e-commerce, and is often a vehicle for scams and computer viruses. International collaboration by enforcement agencies, the efforts of the computer and communications industries, and smart consumers at home (who take steps to protect themselves) are all needed to combat the internet scammers.”
To date, the OFT has fought a couple of successful actions against spammers and scam sites – but with a lack of results from other global initiatives, it remains to be seen if this latest conference will have any effect. Global spam traffic increases every week, and the numbers of scam sites, viruses and spyware applications is simply going up, not down.
The OFT’s main policy at the moment is to educate the public – their site has the usual hints and advice for email and web users, but these are hardly “tips to help you fight back”. A spam filter is not “fighting back” by any definition. Fighting back would be giving the anti-spam laws some teeth, and giving global law enforcement agencies the funding and co-ordination to combat spam at it source.