In response to the rising tide of spam, the Federal Government will investigate the effectiveness of measures to control unsolicited commercial e-mails.
Australian users received six times more unsolicited e-mails in 2001 than in the previous year, according to the Coaltion Against Unsolicited Bulk E-mail.
The National Office of the Information Economy (NOIE) has been asked to report on the effectiveness of attempts to control spam and recommend further action.
USInternet Industry Association president, David McClure, said part of the challenge in extending legislation lies in defining spam.
At a recent meeting with IIA, McClure said: "We know what e-mail means, but from a legislative standpoint we don't have a clue what unsolicited or commercial means."
"There certainly is a class of unsolicited e-mail that we can deal with right away, that is e-mail that comes from a false address, has no unsubscribe details, and is usually of a fraudulent nature to begin with. We can deal with that now, we don't need new legislation for that."
Justin Milne, chairman of the Internet Industry Association, said spam was one of the association's top concerns.
"This is the year that our industry must address security, fraud, spam and work with Government and the law enforcement agencies to ensure that we are running a network which remains a great place to 'live, work and play'," Milne said.
The IIA wants the Government to extend the current legislation to protect the industry against spam.
According to a statement from the office of Communication Minister Senator Richard Alston, spam contributes to higher costs for Internet service providers and slows down Internet speeds, irrespective of its content.
Alston said the Government is concerned about e-mail messages that are clearly inappropriate or unwanted, in particular those containing illegal, offensive or deceptive content, or those that incorporate personal information used in breach of the Privacy Act.