While most Internet users only think of spam as an annoying waste of time, billions of dollars are spent each year to either send or block the mostly ineffective and unwanted electronic advertisements, the Taiwan Internet Association (TIA) said yesterday.
The association added that the government should push for the passing of the Controlling the Abuse of Commercial E-mail Statute to regulate the flow of spam and save unnecessary expenditures related to it.
“Among the people we surveyed, only 0.7 percent of Internet users said they had never gotten spam messages, while users on average received 29 spam messages a day,” said TIA’s Wu Hsiao-ling (吳小玲), citing a survey that the association conducted with 13,155 Internet users beginning last month.
The National Communications Commission (NCC) said that 117.2 billion spam messages were sent in the country over the past year, “but 82.71 percent of them were blocked by Internet service providers [ISP] as spam,” Wu said.
The filtering costs ISP companies billions of dollars a year, but that is only half of the cost to wipe spam out of people’s lives, she said.
“The rest of the spam — about 9.8 billion messages — flows into the user’s accounts … More than 70 percent of them are then deleted without being read, which proves that spam messages are mostly ineffective,” she said. “If we count the cost of deleting each of them as NT$0.02 [considering the user’s time and Internet service fees], the unread spam costs us around NT$2 billion [US$62 million] a year.”
Internet access providers (IAP) and ISP companies are in support of the anti-spam regulations, said Tan Chang-wen (譚昌文), director of the TIA.
“One, for social justice — businesses can’t go on thinking they can do whatever they like at the cost of other people’s time and resources. Two, so that the businesses can all abide by one set of rules, and finally, so that IAP and ISP companies have a law to refer to when blocking certain internet protocol [IP] addresses,” Tan said.
The statute was first drafted in 2004 and will be sent to the Legislature for review soon, the NCC said.