Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft

There's No Spam Like American Spam


There's No Spam Like American Spam

By Cynthia L. Webb Staff Writer

Tuesday, February 3, 2004; 9:58 AM

The United States and the European Union are stuck in a growing trade war, but this one isn't about beef, bioengineering or bananas -- it's about spam. It turns out that it's one of the United States's biggest exports and European officials are desperate to ease the glut.

Yes, U.S. lawmakers are fed up with junk e-mail just like their European counterparts. Congress even passed national, anti-spam legislation last year. Yes, U.S. consumers get slapped with spam too.

But the fact that most spam originates in the United States (which has no outright spam ban) has led the EU (which does) to cry for the Americans to "do something about a world increasingly awash in unwanted e-mail. Despite Europe's stronger privacy laws, about 53% of all electronic mail in the 15-nation European Union is unsolicited commercial bulk e-mail, or spam, according to Brightmail Inc., an antispam technology company. Even though the EU has 12 official languages, 80% of its spam is in English and 80% claims North America as its point of origin," The Wall Street Journal reported today. The request that the U.S. and other governments do more about spam is a central theme of a spam workshop this week by the international consortium Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Brussels. The European Commission hosted the meeting.

"According to some sources, unsolicited bulk mail volumes now account for as much as one-half of all e-mail traffic on the Internet. Even if a given country's domestic e-marketing culture discourages spam, or legal restrictions are in place, spam can easily be sent from elsewhere. With Internet access available in over 200 countries, spam can originate from almost any location across the globe," OECD said in a statement yesterday.

The release is diplomatic, saying only that governments must ramp up anti-spam fight, but everyone knows the EU is mostly talking about the United States here.