Spam mail has become a worldwide problem with its steady increase. According to a recent report by CNN, Hotmail subscribers collectively receive over 1 billion pieces of junk email a day which counts for 80 percent of all messages received. On the legal front, The Wall Street Journal currently reported that the semiconductor company Intel sued a former employee for criticizing Intel"s policies through unwanted emails sent to Intel workers. The case has turned into a battle pitting the company"s right to manage its assets against freedom of speech.
In Korea, spam mail has also gotten increasing public attention, and the amount of unwanted spam mail reported to the Korean Information Security Agency (KISA) in the last twenty days has been over 5,000 cases. Spam mail has also widened its sphere of influence from email accounts to cell phones, as cell phones have become a fixture of daily life. The number of spam messages sent through cell phones and reported to KISA were 3,019 last year, but has increased rapidly as 3,457 cases were already reported for this year by June.
College students, as frequent cell phone users, have a lot to complain about. "Sometimes I get a message saying that I have a new message. Thinking it"s from a friend, I made the call, only to realize that it"s an advertisement or service that I"ve paid extra to listen to," says Yoon Soo-young (Law, 1). One particularly unwelcome type of message students fall victim to are 700 ARS call services that use cellular phone messages to get the user to make an expensive call unknowingly. "An innocent looking music letter may cost more than you expect," says Na Soo-hyun (Social Services, 2).
Recently, the Ministry of Information and Communication announced more strict regulations concerning email and plans to increase the current fine for spam mail from five million won to ten million won. The Ministry also plans to extend the regulations to apply to violations on cell phones and fax machines, for which laws are still relatively lax. A spam mail refusal site (www.antispam.go.kr) was also set up, where users can request blocking services by registering their email address or cell phone number.
Besides such efforts by the state, increasing public attention and the spread of knowledge about ways to block junk mail may persuade advertisers to give up this cheap but unpopular way of advertising. As a Daum cafe by the name of "nospam" with over 1,400 members states on its board, "Netizens must realize their responsibility to learn the basics about email and think of new ways to make using the Internet a cleaner activity."