Majority in Favor of Making Mass-Spamming Illegal
Given the amount of spam this should come as no surprise. On average people online estimate that they receive more than 40 emails a day, including those at home, work or at other locations, and that 40% of these emails are spam.
These are the results of two Harris Polls, one conducted online between May 19 and 27, 2003 with a nationwide cross section of 3,462 adults who are online, and the other with a nationwide sample of 655 online adults surveyed by telephone between June 10 and 15, 2003.
The types of email that annoy the most people a lot are pornography (86%), mortgages and loans (71%), prescription drugs such as Viagra (60%), and investments (59%). Many, but fewer people, are annoyed a lot by spam selling real estate (51%), software (36%) and computer and other hardware (31%).
Some of these questions were asked in a previous Harris Poll and the trends are, in one sense, a bit of a paradox. Those who favor making spamming illegal have increased (from 74% last December to 79% now). But those who find spamming very annoying have declined from 80% last year to 64% now, and somewhat fewer people (but still substantial majorities) are annoyed a lot by the main types of spam. This suggests that while people may have become more efficient at identifying and deleting spam, this has not in any way reduced their desire to eliminate or reduce it.
Two technical points are worth noting. Some experts have argued that making spamming illegal would not work, and the spammers would move offshore where they could not be prosecuted. The second point relates to the capacity of the Internet system. This survey suggests that if spam could be greatly reduced below its current level (40% of all emails in this research), this would free up a huge amount of space for other more desirable Internet traffic.