FTC Commissioner Mozelle W. Thompson said the work of the IMSN, whose mission is to foster cross-border cooperation in consumer protection, has grown more important with the emergence of the global electronic marketplace.
"Entities around the world are recognizing the importance of cross-border cooperation for consumer protection," Mozelle said.
In addition to the U.S., the countries that brought actions this year against Internet scam artists in their jurisdictions were Canada, Finland, Ireland, Norway, Australia, the U.K., New Zealand, and Germany, Mozelle said.
The IMSN's meeting is focusing on how the organization can use the Internet to share complaints and ensure that effective remedies are put in place in cross-border cases, Mozelle said. But there are still impediments to cooperation. For example, whille the U.S. has some level of cooperation with all 29 countries in the IMSN, so far only a few have signed formal cooperation agreements.
The U.K.'s representative at the IMSN meeting, Jonathan Rees, director of consumer affairs in the U.K.'s Department of Trade and Industry, announced at the news conference that the U.K. is the third country after Canada and Australia to sign such an agreement with the U.S. The memorandum of understanding between the U.S. and the U.K. is aimed at facilitating enhanced law enforcement cooperation in consumer protection.
"It's aim is really to help tackle those scams that originate in one country that hurt consumers both in the U.K. and the U.S.," Rees said.
Other countries have been slow to reach bilateral agreements on information sharing in consumer fraud cases because of data privacy concerns, and cultural considerations regarding sharing complaints and information from citizens of one country with officials of another, Harrington said.
"Those concerns are slowly being overcome," Harrington said. "As that happens more countries will participate."
Margret Johnston is a Washington correspondent for the IDG News Service, an InfoWorld affiliate.