WATPA: FW: Users get more junk e-mail but take it in stride

From: Norm Jacknis <norm@jacknis.com>
Date: Mon Apr 11 2005 - 21:02:37 EDT


Study: Users get more junk e-mail but take it in stride
And the CAN-SPAM Act has apparently helped cut porn-related spam

News Story by Todd R. Weiss <mailto:todd_weiss@computerworld.com>

survey on spam and e-mail found that people are getting slightly more
spam in their in-boxes, but because less of it is pornographic, they're
not as upset as in the past.

The telephone survey (download PDF)
<http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_Spam_Ap05.pdf>, done in January and
February by the Washington-based Pew Internet & American Life Project,
asked 1,421 randomly dialed Internet users for their opinions about
spam, e-mail and any phishing scams they've received.

Deborah Fallows, a senior research fellow with the group, said the data
showed that people seem to be less bothered by spam recently because
they've seen a decline in the receipt of the most offensive category of
unsolicited messages -- pornography.

"If you're getting less of the spam that bothers you most," the rest of
it isn't seen to be as much of a problem, Fallows said. The decline is
at least in part a result of the federal CAN-SPAM Act, she said, which
went into effect on Jan. 1, 2004. The CAN-SPAM Act, or Controlling the
Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003,
prohibits the use of false header information in bulk commercial e-mail
and requires unsolicited messages to include opt-out instructions (see
Penalties for violations include fines of up to $250 per e-mail, and are
capped at $6 million. The antispam measure has been used by law
enforcement agencies to go after senders of pornographic e-mails and
assess fines or put them behind bars.

The passage of the law "certainly didn't hurt," Fallows said. "The
spammers are aware that litigators are targeting this, and they know
it's a point of vulnerability."

Overall, the amount of spam sent out is up by about 80%, according to
some estimates, she said. But much of that isn't getting through to
users because of antispam filters and controls.

The survey also found that:

    * 63% of e-mail users say they have received porn spam, down eight
      percentage points from a year ago; 29% of those users say they now
      get less porn spam, while 16% said they are getting more.
    * 28% of users with a personal e-mail account say they are getting
      more spam than a year ago; 22% say they are getting less.
    * 21% of users with a work e-mail account say they are getting more
      spam than a year ago, while 16% say they are getting less.
    * 53% of e-mail users say spam has made them less trusting of
      e-mail, compared to 62% who felt that way a year ago. And 22% of
      e-mail users say spam has led them to reduce their use of e-mail,
      compared to 29% who said that last year.
    * 35% of the users said they have received "phishing" e-mails that
      sought personal financial information. Two percent of those users
      said they responded and provided the requested information.

Because users are able to rely on software filters and antispam programs
to handle incoming spam, they feel more in control of their own
computing experiences, Fallows said. "You want to do your e-mail, so you
tolerate your spam," she said.

Users' views of what actually is spam are also changing, according to
the survey. In June 2003, 74% of recipients considered unsolicited
e-mail from a political or advocacy group to be spam, but by January
2005, that number had slipped to 66%.

The nonprofit Pew Internet & American Life Project is funded by the Pew
Charitable Trusts to examine the social impact of the Internet.
Received on Mon Apr 11 21:03:07 2005

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