- Receiving junk email is costing internet subscribers across the globe approximately $NZ20.27 billion (10 billion Euros) annually in connection costs, a European Commission study on data protection has found.
The study looked at the "spam" phenomenon in the US and EU in order to assess the effectiveness of internet privacy and data protection laws of EU member states, plus their varying approaches to implementing EU data protection directives.
"The exponential growth of junk e-mail in recent years is a fact of life," says EU's internal market commissioner Frits Bolkestein. "Current technology allows a single cyber-marketing company to send half-a-billion personalised ad mails via the World Wide Web every day.
Consumer information gleaned from individual web transactions/consultations can be sold for large sums of money, and yet many individual subscribers are unaware of the scale and implications of these developments," Bolkenstein says.
The study, which focused on the US as the most active email marketing market, found that reconciling consumer privacy with the e-commerce and e-marketing boom could be as simple as legislating an opt-in system where users would have to formally request to receive unsolicited emails from e-marketers.
Opt-ins are currently required in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Italy and Germany. However, the commission is proposing an update to its Data Protection law that would see all EU members apply opt-ins as a method of privacy and data protection.