NYTimes writes about the remarkable rise of spam and how the marketers continue to find ways around the obstacles (legal, filters) that are being put up:
The infestation is growing faster than the antispammers can keep up. Brightmail, which makes spam-filtering software for corporate networks and big Internet providers, says that 45 percent of the e-mail it now sees is junk, up from 16 percent in January 2002. America Online says the amount of spam aimed at its 35 million customers has doubled since the beginning of this year and now approaches two billion messages a day, more than 70 percent of the total its users receive.
Indeed, the spam problem defies ready solution. The Internet e-mail system, designed to be flexible and open, is fundamentally so trusting of participants that it is easy to hide where an e-mail message is coming from and even what it is about.
Another reason there is so much spam is that, with a simple computer hookup and a mailing list, it is remarkably easy and inexpensive to start a career in e-mail marketing. Companies that offer products like vitamins and home mortgages as well as those selling items like penis and breast enlargement kits will allow nearly any e-mail marketer to pitch their wares, paying a commission for any completed transaction.
The microscopic cost of sending e-mail, compared with the price of postal mailings, allows senders to make money on products bought by as little as one recipient for every 100,000 e-mail messages.