With spam becoming one of the biggest online menaces to corporations and consumers, a local association and representatives from online companies yesterday suggested the government speed up legislation to curb the proliferation of junk e-mail.
"Junk e-mails, which now account for almost half of mails received every day, are expected to cause losses of US$100 million among companies in Taiwan," Huang Ho-ming (黃河明), chairman of the Secure Online Shopping Association (台北市消費者電子商務協會), said at a press conference. "The problem will only get worse with the absence of related regulations."
Spam, or unsolicited e-mails, cost companies and consumers about NT$50 billion three years ago, according to a study conducted by Chang Wen-hua (
The losses caused by such e-mail will have no doubt grown considerably, said Chang, who also attended yesterday's conference.
The unwanted e-mail problem hits Internet Services Providers (ISPs) first, forcing them to spend huge amounts on expanding bandwidth and capacity, as well as buying anti-spam software.
"Although we successfully block 50 percent of unsolicited e-mail before they reach our customers' mailboxes, it is not good enough," said Kuo Kuo-tsan (郭國燦), a deputy engineer of Chunghwa Telecom Co's (中華電信) Hinet unit, the largest Internet service provider with more than 2 million customers nationwide.
A considerable percentage of disguised ads still slip through the filter, and some regular or solicited e-mails are mistakenly blocked, Kuo said. The concern over junk e-mail has grown as more of them carry malicious viruses that can paralyze millions of computer systems, he added.
In addition to the technical difficulty of sorting spam from other e-mails, ISPs also find it hard to locate spammers, said Chang Chao-jung (張肇榮), vice president of Seednet Digital United Inc (數位聯合電信).
ISPs usually suspend the Internet protocol address of any customer found engaging in unusual mailing activities, Chang said. But this does little to restrain spammers, as they can easily change their identity and resume the service, Chang said.
As a result, some at the conference called for an anti-spam law to regulate spamming activities like the one passed by the US government on Tuesday, which requires companies to include unsubscription information in commercial e-mails they send to users.
An alternative could be the "opt-in" model used by the EU, which bans companies from sending e-mails without having first obtained permission from users.