Someone has to pay for spam, and as the section above illustrated it's
certainly not the spammer. Unfortunately, it's us--the receivers of spam--
who pay the cost. But how much?
First, spam uses bandwidth. Internet providers are commonly charged $2
per gigabyte of data transferred. If a typical spam message is 3k in
length that means that every 333,000 spams cost $2 in bandwidth. That
may not sound like much, but considering that there are currently about
10 billion spams being sent per day that's costing Internet providers
$30,000 in bandwidth alone per day. That cost is, of course, passed
along to you either as a higher Internet bill or as decreased performance
at your ISP.
Second, spam requires the attention of ISPs. They must attempt to
filter it, respond to customer complaints regarding spam, and otherwise
devote time to spam that could be better spent improving customer service
or the technical quality of their ISP. This may require one or more
additional customer service representatives even at small ISPs, and many
many more at larger ISPs. The salary and related benefits of a customer
service representative may be $40,000 per year or more. Again, these
costs are passed on to you as a customer.
Finally, probably the most significant cost of spam is the cost to
the receiver dealing with it in terms of their time. Many users--especially
in businesses--leave their email clients open all day such that when a new
message arrives they are immediately notified. Generally, you immediately
check the email to see if it's something that requires your attention. Even
if it takes only 5 seconds to stop what you're doing, realize the message was
spam and delete it, and return to your work, those 10 billion spams per day
are costing the world 50 billion seconds in lost productivity each day.
That's 1585 years of lost productivity every day.
Just imagine, every week the world loses about 10 millenium in lost
productivity to spam. Those that suggest that spam isn't really a problem
and that we should "just hit delete" truly don't understand the economics
of spam and its cost to world productivity.