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PC World

Users look to ISPs to fight spam


   Message Board:Internet: Spam mail
   For more computing stories


June 16, 1999
Web posted at: 11:28 a.m. EDT (1528 GMT)

by James Niccolai

(IDG) -- Most users think their Internet service provider should help protect them from spam mail, and a significant number will switch to another ISP if it doesn't, according to survey results released Monday from antispam software firm Bright Light Technologies.

The survey, conducted in tandem with IT advisory firm Gartner Group, quizzed 13,000 e-mail users from 300 ISPs mostly in the United States, including America Online, Earthlink Network, Juno Online Services, and Microsoft's MSN.

Almost three-quarters of respondents said they think their ISP should help protect them from spam, defined in the survey as "unsolicited commercial e-mail." Fourteen percent said they think the federal government should provide protection from spam.

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Meanwhile, 7 percent of respondents cited spam as their primary reason for switching to another service provider. For an ISP with 1 million customers, that "churn rate" could translate into about $7 million a year in lost revenues, which takes into account the cost of attracting new subscribers, the study found.

"This is a problem that's only getting worse," said Sunil Paul, Bright Light's chief executive officer. "The survey also found that the amount of spam you receive increases the longer you have an account with an ISP."

While Bright Light believes most spam originates in the United States, international users don't escape the problem.

"In many ways spam overseas is an even bigger problem because of the cost of local telephone calls," he said. In the United States, Internet users typically don't pay for the local calls they make to their service provider.

Additional findings from the survey include:

  • Ninety-one percent of users are spammed at least once a week; almost half get spammed six or more times a week.

  • Twenty-four percent believe their ISPs provided spammers with their e-mail addresses, yet fewer than one out of four complained to their ISP.

  • Get-rich-quick schemes and advertisements for adult-content Web sites account for two-thirds of the junk mail received.

  • Twenty-five percent of users said they would be willing to pay an extra fee for a spam-filter service, and most respondents would look favorably at an ISP that offered a filter service as part of its program.

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Bright Light Technologies
Gartner Group
Year 2000 World
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