E-mail Down Under

Are Australians deleting more than spam? Could be, according to data from LEGATO Systems, Inc. indicating that 80 percent of companies that use or accept email for financial transactions – such as orders, confirmations and pricing – delete their emails within a month, with 42 percent deleting daily, and 50 percent of the respondents say they print out less than 5 percent of their emails, so often no record is kept.

The missing emails could cause legal problems as Dr. Adrian McCullagh, solicitor in the Corporate and Technology group at Freehills, an Australian law firm, commented, “While there is no general provision dealing with retention of emails in Australia, the Corporations Law requires financial documents to be retained for five years and Government departments, under the Archive Act, need to retain emails for seven years. Clearly these results show that companies and their directors are at risk of prosecution.”

The data, culled from a survey of 240 Australian professional organizations, found that 79 percent report they have an email protection system set up, yet 48 percent have lost emails due to technology failure; 18 percent have been in a dispute with a customer over emails; and 48 percent have experienced interruption and dollar loss due to email unavailability.

Are overwhelmed inboxes to blame for mishandled email? The LEGATO survey found that 45 percent of respondents experienced a 100 percent increase in spam in the last year, with more than one-quarter (26 percent) receiving 51 to 100 emails per day, and 8 percent saying they get 101 to 150 emails per day.

Furthermore, tests conducted by the Coalition Against Unsolicited Bulk E-mail, Australia (CAUBE) in 1999 and 2001 designed to measure the amount of spam that Web-posted email addresses received, revealed significant increases.

Of the 41 email addresses involved in the 1999 test, an average of 76 unsolicited messages were received per address as of May 2002. Sixty-eight email addresses were measured in the 2001 survey, revealing an average of 82 pieces of spam at each address as of May 2002.

Evidence that spam is a growing global issue comes from a December 2002 survey of 1,000 Symantec Corp. customers revealing that 37 percent of respondents received more than 100 spam emails each week at home and work, with 63 percent receiving more than 50 spam messages weekly. Also, email security services provider, Postini, found a 150 percent increase in spam among the 9 billion email messages it processed in 2002, and this daily statistic doesn’t bode well for the new year – 64.3 percent of the messages processed on January 13, 2003 were spam.

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