China Joins International Anti-Spam “London Plan” – Good Net Citizens or Good Business?

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As the battle heats up over whether to allow China to acquire major United States business holdings, China has turned its attention to another global business issue: spam.

China has long been known as a major source of spam – indeed it is often cited as the second-largest conduit of spam, second only to the United States. This has been due, in no small part, to the ease with which spammers in other countries can relay their spam load through Chinese servers.


Previously, efforts by those in the anti-spam community to engage Chinese Internet providers and their colleagues in any meaningful dialogue aimed at stemming the spam flow from China had met impenetrable barriers, and not just of the language variety. The situation has caused frustration, and has even lead to some anti-spam activists retaliating by replying to Chinese spam and including Chinese-state forbidden terms in their reply such as “Falun Gong”, in hopes of causing the spammer to get removed from the network.

Now China has agreed to sign on to an international agreement to staunch spam known as the “London Action Plan on Spam Enforcement Collaboration”, or “The London Plan” for short (apparently the Brits don’t have the penchant for acronyms that do their U.S. counterparts, although one has to admit that “the London Plan” is more prosaic than “LAPSEC”).

The main thrust of the London Plan is to increase training of anti-spam and email abuse professionals in the participating nations, and also to establish and maintain open lines of communication, along with points of first contact.

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Said UK E-Commerce Minister Alun Michael, “China engaged constructively in the Asia-Europe Meeting on E-Commerce in London in February. Now, as China reaches the 100m Internet users mark, we welcome this opportunity to work with China to make the Internet safer for users.”

But still, some are wondering whether a) China will actually crack down on the problem – establishing points of contact is a long way from promising to actually do something when someone is sending a million pieces of spam from one of your government-controlled servers, and b) whether and how much this is part of a larger plan to show themselves as world-players at a time that China is increasingly attemping to not only be a bigger player in, but acquire a larger part of, the global market.

Indeed, at this very moment the United States congress is wrestling with whether to allow China to outbid U.S.-based Chevron in a takeover of California oil company Unocal. China is also in the midst of attempting to acquire U.S. appliance manufacturer Maytag, and did acquire IBM’s personal computer division last year. In fact last Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly, 398 to 15, to urge the president to block the Unocal takeover as being a threat to national security.

 

Said Louisiana representative William Jefferson, “We cannot, in my opinion, afford to have a major U.S. energy supplier controlled by the Communist Chinese.” Jefferson was referring to the fact that CNOOC, the Chinese company bidding for Unocal, is controlled by the Chinese government.

Closer to home, however, anti-spam professionals just want to know whether China is going to clamp down on spammers, and inbox users just want to know when the spam is going to slow down. We hope it’s soon.

No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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