Healthcare Quarterly

Healthcare Quarterly 8(2) March 2005 : 115-116.doi:10.12927/hcq..17419

Quarterly Index: SPAM Outbreak


In just a few years, unsolicited commercial e-mail, also known as Spam, has gone from a minor nuisance to a major economic and social issue. According to best estimates (from companies such as Brightmail and MessageLab), it now represents more than half of the world's e-mail traffic. Processing and managing Spam creates costs that are ultimately for by businesses and personal e-mail users. Some are now reducing their use of e-mail as a communications tool, posing a significant impediment to the benefits of legitimate e-commerce. We present a look at some of the latest figures released by Industry Canada.
[Figure 1]

Spam Statistics

The statistics below are current as of 2003, but spam data become quickly outdated. These statistics were derived from a number of different reputable sources including: Google, Brightmail, Jupiter Research, eMarketer, Gartner, MailShell, Harris Interactive, and Ferris Research.

E-mail Statistics

  • Daily e-mails sent 31 billion
  • Daily e-mails sent per e-mail address 56
  • Daily e-mails sent per person 174
  • Daily e-mails sent per corporate user 34
  • Daily e-mails received per person 10
  • E-mail addresses per person 3.1 average
  • Cost to all Internet users $255 million

Spam Statistics

  • E-mail considered Spam 40% of all e-mail
  • Daily Spam e-mails sent 12.4 billion
  • Daily Spam received per person 6
  • Annual Spam received per person 2200
  • Spam cost to all non-corp Internet users $255 million
  • Spam cost to all US Corporations in 2002 $8.9 billion
  • States with anti-spam laws 26
  • E-mail address changes due to Spam 16%
  • Estimated Spam increase by 2007 63%
  • Annual Spam in 1,000 employee company 2.1 million
  • Users who reply to Spam e-mail 28%
  • Users who purchased from Spam e-mail 8%
  • Corporate e-mail that is considered spam 15-20%
  • Wasted corporate time per Spam e-mail 4-5 seconds

In the US Consumers want government to provide greater protection against spammers. According to the (ePrivacy Group) survey:

  • 74% of consumers stated that they want a federal do-notspam list.
  • 79% of consumers stated that they want spam banned or limited by law.
  • While opt-out is sometimes touted as an antidote to spam, it is not used by more than 37% of consumers. The three primary reasons are: fears that opt-out will confirm their address to spammers; uncertainty as whether opt-out will work; doubts that opt-out will be honoured. However, there is still hope for opt-out: 47% of the respondents said they would feel more confident about opt-out if it was verified by a trusted third party.
  • Most consumers who receive a falsified e-mail message (89%) or an e-mail containing unsolicited adult content (74%) automatically define it as spam.
  • Over 31% of consumers consider all unsolicited e-mails that contain any type of advertisement to be spam.

the Spam Business Model

  • Spam is profitable: cost to sender is minimal.
  • Traditional direct mail requires response rate of 2%; Spam can operate at return rate of 0.025% .
  • A huge global web of loosely managed networks and facilities allows this form of e-mail abuse.
  • Impunity: enforcement of domestic laws is difficult and requires considerable resources.

the Cost of Spam

  • Radicati Group and Message Labs estimate worldwide cost to businesses at $20.5 billion.
  • Nortel Networks: despite spam filters, employees receive 5,000 to 15,000 spam messages a day
  • Each spam message costs $1 in lost productivity.
  • Loss of public confidence in Internet communications 25% of Internet users have curtailed their use of email because of spam (Pew Foundation, 2003).
  • Aggressive filtering has blocked legitimate (permission-based) electronic communications, such as service notices, invoices and newsletters.


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