[EDITORIALS]Let's delete the spammers

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[EDITORIALS]Let's delete the spammers

A local court has put a meaningful brake on the excessive evil effects of spam mail. Ruling on a lawsuit filed by a citizen against a local company for continuing to send e-mail advertisements even after the recipient has refused to receive them, the Seoul District Court has decided that the company must pay damages for infringing upon the user's personal rights. The ruling is a welcome decision for many Internet users who have been plagued by unsolicited junk messages every time they check their e-mail. We hope that the ruling will be a serious warning to spammers, stopping them from the improper practice.

E-mail pollution has been left unchecked for a long time. Statistics say that the typical domestic Internet user receives an average of 33 junk e-mail messages a week, and more than 100 million bulk messages are being circulated every day. In particular, obscene spam mail, which is scattered indiscriminately, regardless of a recipient's gender and age, can do great harm to young people. According to a local Internet company, 6 out of 10 middle school students get commercial e-mail messages at least once a week, and more than 30 percent of those ads involve obscenites.

There is no magic formula for blocking indecent spam mail that pours in from abroad, for local authorities cannot apply domestic laws to overseas spammers, and it is extremely difficult to track down the spammers' Internet protocols. Politicians have already begun bombarding the Web ahead of the presidential election in December. If left undeterred, e-mail outrages will become even more prevalent during June's gubernatorial and mayoral elections.

Under a current law, spammers are subject to up to 5 million won ($3,800) in fines for continuing to send unwanted e-mail despite a recipient's refusal. But the law is toothless, and the Internet nuisance has spread to cellular phones. The Ministry of Information and Communication should revise the current law and require Internet advertisers to identify e-mail as ads, while providing ways for recipients to reject the messages. Meanwhile, authorities should crack down on illegal trading of e-mail addresses and firms should develop advanced e-mail filtering systems.
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