28 April 2003 Microsoft, AOL Time Warner and Yahoo, the world’s three biggest email service providers, have put aside commercial differences to call upon the rest of the IT industry to join in a concerted assault on spammers — bulk distributors of junk email.
The three companies, each plagued by the need to manage hundreds of millions of junk emails every day, want IT companies to join them in developing new technical standards that will help them and their customers, deal with spam more effectively.
They also want IT companies to join together and take out class action lawsuits against spammers and have asked US federal and European legislators to strengthen anti-spamming laws.
The three companies will make their case for an aggressive approach to spammers at a three day conference on email practices organised by the US Federal Trade Commission this week.
A recent report from US based Ferris Research Inc estimates that spam costs US businesses $10 billion a year in lost productivity and spending on anti-spam measures. According to anti-spam software supplier Brightmail, junk mail now accounts for 45% of all email traffic.
AOL says it now blocks an average of 780 million emails a day — more than it delivers. It is currently suing five spammers in Virginia for $10 million.
In the UK, the government is currently consulting with industry on proposed new legislation. The move is the first step in the UK’s implementation of the European Union’s Electronic Communication Data Protection Directive. This mandates the confirmed ‘opt-in’ principle for all email and mobile text message marketing within the EU.