More than a year after the CAN-SPAM Act became law, email users say
they are receiving slightly more spam in their inboxes than before,
but they are minding it less.
A new survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project conducted
between January 13 and February 9, 2005, shows the following:
28% of users with a personal email account say they are getting more
spam than a year ago, while 22% say they are getting less.
21% of users with a work email account say they are getting more spam
than a year ago, while 16% say they are getting less.
53% of email users say spam has made them less trusting of email,
compared to 62% a year ago.
22% of email users say that spam has reduced their overall use of
email, compared to 29% a year ago.
67% of email users say spam has made being online unpleasant or annoying,
compared to 77% a year ago.
Overall, more than half of all internet users (52%) complain that
spam is a big problem.
“We see a little more spam with a little less distress since
Congress tried to stem the flow of unsolicited email with the CAN-SPAM
Act in January 2004,” said Deborah Fallows, Senior Research
Fellow at the Pew Internet Project. “Maybe people are getting
used to spam, or becoming resigned to it, just like air pollution
and crowded roads.”
Among other things, the survey found that people were getting less
porn spam, a uniquely troubling form of spam for most users and particularly
for women. While 63% of email users now say they have received porn
spam, down 8 percentage points from a year ago, 29% of those email
users say they are now getting less porn spam, compared to 16% who
said they are getting more.
And in a first-time measure of “phishing,” or unsolicited
email requesting personal financial information, 35% of users say
they have received such email, and 2% have responded by providing
In further findings, more email users have reacted positively to the
unprecedented use of email in political campaigns over the past year.
In June, 2003, 74% of emailers considered “unsolicited email
from a political or advocacy group” to be spam, but by January,
2005, that number had dropped significantly to 66%.
The Pew Internet & American Life Project is a non-profit initiative
of the Pew Research Center and is funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts
to examine the social impact of the internet. It does not advocate
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