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Survey shows unwanted e-mail proliferating

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Internet users deluged with virtual junk mail are holding their service providers responsible for an unwanted flood of spam, according to a survey released Monday.

The Gartner Group survey of 13,000 e-mail users found that 90 percent of users receive spam -- junk e-mail -- at least once a week and almost 50 percent get spammed six or more times per week.Gartner also found that the longer a user stays with a particular Internet service provider, the more spam he or she is likely to receive.

Three out of four respondents said their Internet service provider should be responsible for banning or regulating the spam, while 13.5 percent thought the federal government should do this.

"The study showed emphatically that e-mail users resent the time it takes to delete spam, see it as a huge invasion of their privacy, and are offended by it," said Sunil Paul, CEO of Bright Light Technologies, who commissioned the study.

Ray Everett-Church, co-founder of the Coalition Against Unsolicited e-mail, said he knew lots of computer users were unhappy with the flood of unsolicited e-mails. But he said he hadn't realized the extent of the problem until he saw the survey.

"The study is fantastic, it provides us with tangible, hard numbers on issues that we suspected for a long time but seemed anecdotal," he said.

Unlike paper junk mail, spam costs recipients and service providers in the form of online time, bandwidth and disk space. Online spam messages include get-rich-quick schemes, links to pornography, software offers, health promotions and investment information.