The majority of spam worldwide comes from the United States, according to a United Nations report.
In its annual global e-commerce survey released Nov. 20, the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development reported that 58.4 percent of spam in March 2003 came from the United States, which also suffers the most spam. The No. 2 source for spam was China, accounting for 5.6 percent.
UNCTAD cites MessageLabs statistics that spam worldwide could overtake legitimate e-mail by the end of the year, which already has occurred in the United States. The report puts the global spam price tag at $20.5 billion, covering IT costs, lost productivity and maintenance of help desks.
UNCTAD concluded that spam, often the vehicle for IT viruses, represents a threat to public confidence in the Internet, particularly in developing countries. A recent Pew Internet study recently found that fewer U.S. Internet users trusted e-mail because of spam.
“In this environment, trust in B2C e-commerce may suffer unless measures to address consumers' mounting concerns are taken, including not only stringent technological protection of data but also law enforcement action,” UNCTAD advised.
The report urged governments to cooperate in fighting spam. Cooperation has been limited by different approaches to the problem. In the European Union, a directive recently went into force that will outlaw unsolicited commercial e-mail, while the United States has yet to adopt federal anti-spam legislation. The Senate passed the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, which does not ban unsolicited commercial e-mail.