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"Junk" E-Mail Costs Consumers' Money: EU Study

February 2, 2001

BRUSSELS (Feb. 2) XINHUA - Internet users worldwide are paying some 10 billion euro (9.4 billion U.S. dollars) a year in connection costs to receive "junk" e-mail, said a study published Friday by the European Commission.

The commission, the executive branch of the European Union (EU), warned that unless Internet consumers feel their privacy is adequately protected, "the online services in Europe are unlikely to flourish."

It said information from website transactions and visits was being sold for large sums of money, but many Internet users were unaware of how data collected from them was being used.

Current technology allows a single cyber-marketing company to send half a billion personalized ad mails via the worldwide web every day, but many individual subscribers are unaware of the scale and implications of these developments, said Frits Bolkestein, EU commissioner for Internal market.

The commission said it wants to encourage the development of Internet services, while ensuring individual privacy rights are protected.

The EU executive carried out the study as part of an ongoing effort "to ensure that the development of the Internet and e- commerce does not undermine Europe's rules on Internet privacy and data protection."

The commission said it was up to Internet companies to answer such concerns. The study will help the commission's work with data protection experts from EU member states on assessing the implementation of EU data protection legislation, it said in a statement.



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