All The Spam In The World Makes $200m, Costs Us $20b

We all hate spam. But we figure it must be worth it to someone since there's so damn much of it. But... apparently not. A new paper from the Journal of Economic Perspectives estimates it brings in a total of $US200 million in revenue worldwide per year. And then the rest of us spend $US20 billion cleaning it up. Ugh.

How is that possible? Well, it's insanely cheap to send spam. The paper suggests that things like raising the cost of payment processing would have a dramatic effect on spammers' overhead and would probably be more effective than, say, government intervention. [Journal of Economic Perspectives via The Atlantic]


Comments

    Soo... If we give the Spammers 10bill not to spam - the interwebs could be spam free and we'd be saving 10bill . If only right :c

      Maybe, but you'd only need to give them 200mil or a bit more.

    I heard of a great solution years ago. You make sending an email cost one cent. for the average personal user, this will cost under $1 a month, even a lot less. For serious business' this would ad a ver manageable amount to their yearly costs. But for spammers who send out thousands and thousands a day, this will end up costing them more money that it's worth to them.
    As this article reports, $200million worldwide a year, there would be countless numbers of places set up to do this. So by charging this fee it will either limit the scope they choose to spam, or potentially financially ruin them so we don't has the issue anymore.

      Ever worked in a company with more then 100 people? As much as I appreciate the idea of this, it isn't feasible. I send on average 200 emails a day. On days that are nastier closed to 1000 emails a day. I work at a company with roughly 1400 employees at it. I work in the 4 person IT team. We are on the lower end of email usage. HR sends roughly 2700 emails internally and externally a day. I'm also not counting any of the automated alert systems which send emails whenever IT equipment has some out of the ordinary behaviour.
      Probably the best way to handle this would be to try and shift to a new tech outside of email, what this would be I don't know.

      And what of the cost of billing this or processing the payments? :)

        Perhaps it would be less than 20 B..

        Well your current internet isn't free is it? The initial cost of a universal way to count an outgoing email from your ISP server wouldn't (in the scheme of things) be costly, far less than $20billion. For free email accounts like gmail and the like, it can be as simple as an ads based service where you are limited to 'x' number of emails a day for free (actual cost covered by ads visible in your browser at the time of sending), and if you go beyond this number, which should be an amount similar to your ISP (again to keep it universal), you would just need to pay via paypal or CC.
        The vast majority of users wouldn't ever get close to sending enough emails daily to use their limit, but just like my previous comment, companies/individuals spamming thousands and thousands of times a day will simply have to pay for it.

        If we're already spending such a crazy amount yearly as it is, a minuscule portion of this would be seen as a great return on investment.

    $200m for a total outlay of $0 is a pretty good ROI.

    Spam don't cost me a damn thing.
    Well, maybe $4.95 for a can of it at the supermarket.
    Certainly not $20b.
    "... it’s insanely cheap to send spam " . Yes and equally cheap to delete it.

    Open an account at Coldrain Knujon and also at Spamcop and report every one. Getting their domains and their hosting accounts suspended costs them money and time, making their spam much less profitable.

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