The US, UK and Australia have signed up to an anti-spam effort in an attempt to get the problem under control.

The Memorandum of Understanding [pdf] will see six agencies from the three countries share resources so spammers can be tackled across international borders.

The US Federal Trade Commission, UK Office of Fair Trading, Information Commissioner and secretary of state, and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and Communications Authority will "share information, co-operate in detecting and investigating spam violations, co-operate in tracking spammers, exchange evidence, facilitate law enforcement against spam violators, and coordinate enforcement against cross-border spam violations".

"This is just one piece of the puzzle, the enforcement piece," said Yael Weinman, a legal adviser for the US Bureau of Consumer Protection, an agency within the FTC. "There are also technical issues that need to be addressed with the cooperation and participation of the private sector." She said the agreement was gearing toward joint investigations and parallel investigations against spammers across international borders.

The memorandum of understanding lays out specific rules and procedures that allow them to share information and work together to detect, investigate and track spammers. It also promotes an October meeting, scheduled to take place in London, where law enforcement officials from around the world will gather to address the spam problem.

In a statement, Stephen Timms, the communications minister, said the effort is "not going to solve spam overnight, but it reinforces our determination to tackle it with a combination of industry initiatives, technical solutions and user awareness."

Bob Horton, acting chairman of the Australian Communications Authority, agreed. "This Memorandum of Understanding provides a framework for cooperation in fighting cross-border spam affecting all three countries," he said.