About 50 per cent of all e-mail received in Hong Kong is spam and could be costing the economy up to US$1.3 billion a year, according to recent survey findings by the Hong Kong Internet Service Providers Association (HKISPA).

The data gathered from 11 ISPs covering 90 per cent of all Hong Kong Internet users indicated five per cent of spam originated from Hong Kong, with a further 20 per cent to 40 per cent from other Asian countries, mainly China. The findings have prompted calls for more measures to curb the spam problem, principally for the government to begin consultation on possible legislation.

“Computer users in Hong Kong suffer from the harmful effects of spam to the same degree as in other parts of the world and action is needed to address the problem,” said York Mok, chairman of the HKISPA.

A second survey by the Office of Sin Chung-kai, Legislative Councillor for IT, found over 80 per cent of respondents asking for government action to regulate unsolicited e-mails. The survey asked a cross section of the Hong Kong public to voice their feeling son the problems of spam. Of those asking for government action, 70 per cent favour introducing anti-spam legislation to Hong Kong. The survey claimed this showed respondents do not feel the current technology and measures are adequate to address the spam problem. Representatives of the Hong Kong Anti-Spam Coalition which includes the HKISPA, the Asia Digital Marketing Association (ADMA) and Microsoft Corp, all urged the government to consider anti-spam legislation.