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Economics of Spam mail

Posted December. 29, 2002 22:48,   


Mr. Kim Jung-sik, who came back from abroad, after one week, sighed deeply after opening e-mail box. Exactly 387 mails in one week, but mails from acquainted people were not even 10%. He had to spend half the day checking and deleting Spam mails. Why does it happen?

▽ Spam mail’s supply structure=The reporter contacted the person who sent ‘Spam mail’ to him or helps in sending Spam mail. Mr. A who received the call said, “The original price of e-mail abstract and sending device is 350,000 won, but the price have gone down due to severe competition recently.” and stated that if a person gives 100,000 won, he can provide 40 million e-mail addresses including e-mail sending device for free as bonus.

Mr. A said that he collected 400 million e-mail addresses in one year and he could secure database of 400 million e-mail addresses that are divided on the basis of age and job, excluding overlapping addresses. The reason how Mr. A could secure such e-mail addresses in such a short time was because of software for e-mail abstract.

There are various goods like ○○abstractor which can be downloaded free from internet and, if a person types a word for search, software abstracts 2~30,000 e-mail addresses per hour after surfing internet.

Main consumers of e-mail DB are mostly poor private businessmen like SOHO and managers of adult site. If a person has one PC, he can send many letters as much as 300,000 a day through this software.

Nowadays, new service that sends Spam mail on behalf of the consumer, after receiving 0.3 won per e-mail, are becoming popular. As Spam mails are overflowing and domestic Spam mails are also sent abroad massively, Korea is considered to be ‘cradle of Spam mail.’

If a person sends 700,000 letters, around 50,000 people used to read it early this year, however, due to anti-Spam technology, it is estimated that only 1,000 people read it among them recently.

▽Economics of Spam mail=It is hard to root out Spam mail as its marketing expenditure is cheap. In case of buying DB from Mr. A, an e-mail address costs only 0.025won. ‘Price destruction’ broke out, as one address used to cost up to 10 won one year ago.

The problem is that the losses such as, expenditure for maintaining network following increase of Spam mail, system expenditure to block Spam mail, and mental damage of receiver, etc are increasing. In other words, ‘Imbalance of expenditure-advantage’ occurs because senders get profit (effect of advertisement) due to Spam mail, however, web firms and receivers should bear the expenditure (inconvenience).

In order to resolve it, Daum communication (C.E.C Lee Jae-yong) that is the biggest domestic web mail provider induced ‘Online post system’ from April, which receives 10 won per one letter if it is commercial mail and more than 1,000 letters are sent. But, the commercial letter mentions ‘information’ at the end of the letter and if many receiver replies as ‘information’, Daum pays back stamp cost to the sender. It means that senders must bear expenses except mails that are helpful to receivers.

Success of this system depends upon the number of members of Daum after the system was put in force. Daum evaluates it as successful as rare member secedes. However, some people prospect that online stamp system will cause withdrawal of members in future, as spam mail is information, too.

▽To survive war on Spam mail= Lee Seung-chan, C.E.O of Deep soft, solution development firm for interception of Spam mail, said, “Above all, people should not leave e-mail addresses in bulletin board of internet ” and “If e-mail address is revealed to Spam mail, changing e-mail address is the most secure way.”

Installing software for blocking Spam is also one of the methods. Such software is divided into blocking solution that is installed in company e-mail server and filtering software that is installed in personal PC.

If ‘never Spam’ (www.neverspam.or.kr) which ministry of Information and communication provides for free, is installed, people can prevent abstracting e-mail, however, it is of no use in case your email is revealed to Spam already.

Fortunately, related law was passed in the National Assembly, therefore, selling e-mail DB that is abstracted from homepage, which expresses refusal of e-mail abstraction, will be punished from 19th of January 2003. And if lewd mail is sent to teenagers’ mailbox, the sender will be punished as a criminal.

The information of reporting illegal Spam mail and blocking method guidance are shown in www.spamcop.or.kr or people can call up 02-1366 (1366 for Seoul).

Tae-Han Kim Jong sik Kong freewill@donga.com kong@donga.com