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U.S., Canada to Go After Spammers

The United States and Canada are planning to get tough on deceptive spam and Internet fraud. On Tuesday, state, federal and Canadian officials are expected to raise the curtain on an international law enforcement initiative targeting those areas.

J. Howard Beales, director of the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection, together with Washington Attorney General Christine O. Gregoire, Washington State Department of Financial Institutions Securities Division Director Deborah Bortner, and FTC Northwest Region Director Charles Harwood are expected to introduce the new "international netforce."

The law enforcement initiative will involve the cooperation of a number of agencies, including: the Alaska Attorney General, Alaska State Troopers, Alberta Government Services, British Columbia Securities Commission, British Columbia Solicitor General, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Federal Trade Commission, Idaho Attorney General, Industry Canada Competition Bureau, Montana Department of Administration, Oregon Department of Justice, Washington Attorney General, Washington State Department of Financial Institutions, and Wyoming Attorney General.

The initiative is likely to build on the FTC's agenda for privacy protection, which FTC Chairman Timothy J. Muris outlined in October, 2001. As part of that agenda, Muris promised the FTC would beef up its enforcement against deceptive spam.

Beales reiterated that promise in February, when he told attendees of the annual Privacy and Data Security Summit that the commission planned "stepped up" law enforcement against senders of deceptive or misleading offers via e-mail. Beales spoke of a variety of approaches, including lawsuits and even negotiations with accused spammers. The commission also said it would update and add to the consumers education materials it provides on spam.