Congress Can Help Get the Spam Out of Your Inbox

July 22, 2013

WASHINGTON (July 22, 2013) - Almost 10 years after the CAN-SPAM Act, email spam is still a worldwide concern, wasting valuable network bandwidth, lowering productivity, and costing businesses and consumers billions of dollars per year. While there have been many attempts at addressing the issue, spam still remains an ever-present problem on the Internet. Moreover, spam is the symptom of a much larger disease-a flourishing underground Internet economy designed to meet the needs of cybercriminals by exploiting computer security vulnerabilities.

A new report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) presents a set of comprehensive policy proposals to reduce the use of spam and properly address related cybersecurity issues. How to Stop the Billions Wasted Annually on Email Spam outlines the scope of the spam problem today, analyzes the challenges involved in stopping it, and presents a series of policy recommendations designed to improve enforcement of current laws and expand the cyber legal framework internationally.

"Email spam costs Internet users in the United States between $18 and $26 billion annually, and is only a component of a larger cybercrime economy that continues to outpace the laws and enforcement mechanisms designed to stop it," notes ITIF Senior Analyst Daniel Castro. "We should spend fewer resources stopping spam and more resources stopping spammers."

The report calls for a series of reforms including: the development and deployment of stronger cybersecurity countermeasures by public sector agencies based on private sector best practices, such as those designed to combat botnets, bulletproof hosting, and abuses of affiliate marketing programs; increased resources for law enforcement activities and more engagement with the private sector through a "cyber-deputy" program; the implementation of strict cybersecurity measures in current trade negotiations such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership; and the creation of a "name and shame" program to discourage legitimate companies such as banks from providing services to spammers and other cybercriminals.

"Spam is an issue without an easy solution, but there is more that government can and should do to address the problem," Castro adds. "These recommendations seek to improve anti-spam and cybercrime enforcement, promote international cooperation and reduce incentives for both cybercriminals and legitimate businesses that assist them."

Read the report. 


The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) is a non-profit, non-partisan think tank whose mission is to formulate and promote public policies to advance technological innovation and productivity internationally, in Washington, and in the states. Recognizing the vital role of technology in ensuring prosperity, ITIF focuses on innovation, productivity, and digital economy issues. Learn more at