NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 23, 2005

Over the last decade, spam has come to dominate e-mail traffic, making up at least half of all messages transmitted over the Internet -- and morphing from mere online disturbance to looming threat to productivity, says Crayton Harrison of the Dallas Morning News.

Spam is unsolicited bulk electronic messages. Most are never seen by humans since they reside in the Internet's matrix and rarely find an inbox due to filtering software. In 2003, an estimated 4.5 trillion spam messages were sent and an estimated 7.6 trillion are expected this year, says Harrison.

So, how much does spam cost?

  • In 2003, businesses spent $300 million on anti-spam products and paid about $47.21 per user per year for e-mail software and maintenance.
  • The costs of e-mail run higher for smaller companies even though they are the ones suffering the most since they can't afford the latest information technology managers.
  • Federal agencies don't specify how much they spend on spam prevention, but the government has a budget of $610 million for technology security software and e-mail filtering probably makes up a small percentage.
  • Spending on spam has fueled a market for e-mail security that had sales of $300 million in 2003 and is growing rapidly.

Even though technology companies have launched several aggressive legal campaigns -- the federal CAN-SPAM law and state anti-spam legislation -- which allow companies and prosecutors to go after spammers, the barrage of spam hasn't slowed.

Unfortunately, spammers will keep spamming as long as they can make a profit and as the Internet world develops new technologies and legal remedies against it, spammers will keep finding ways around them, says Harrison.

Source: Crayton Harrison, "The battle for your inbox," Dallas Morning News, August 14, 2005.


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