Stats entertainment: The price of spam

Spam – that most modern of irritants – can at times seem like an unstoppable plague. By some reckonings, spam accounts for over 90% of all email traffic.

That inevitably, places a financial burden on businesses, which are forced to pay for filtering the unwanted emails out.

However, in a recent court case, anti-spam campaigner, Gordon Dick, won his court case against a spammer that had sent him a single unsolicited email. The economics of the case give pause for thought.

Dick was awarded £750 damages. Given that 7 billion spam messages are sent each month, a fine of £750 per message would soon discour-age others. Using such calculations, the potential monthly damages for spam would be £5.25 trillion, a figure close to the total global GDP generated for the period.

But while Dick is happy to help others gain recompense in the fight against spam – via his website – potential litigants should be warned: As of the time of writing, Dick has yet to receive a penny of the damages he was awarded.

As with so many get-rich-quick schemes, getting hold of the promised riches can be tough.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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