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Spam costs Net users a whopping E10 billion ($9.33 billion) a year, according to the European Commission.

Commenting on the findings of an European study, Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein said: "The exponential growth of junk e-mail in recent years is a fact of life.

"Current technology allows a single cyber-marketing company to send half a billion personalised ad mails via the World Wide Web every day.

"Consumer information gleaned from individual Web transactions/consultations can be sold for large sums of money, and yet many individual subscribers are unaware of the scale and implications of these developments.

A recent meeting of data protection chiefs suggested the idea of banning spam was gaining momentum. ®

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