OFT’s Spam Crackdown

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.


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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?