The latest edition of a global digital facts' book claims spam is an even bigger problem than previously imagined.

Two-thirds of all email sent in March was spam, while only 20 percent of it was legitimate, according to the 2006 edition of the Digital Economy Fact Book (pdf), released yesterday by the Progress and Freedom Foundation (PFF), a conservative think-tank based in Washington DC.

PFF researchers gathered data from a variety of public and private sources in the fact book, and have outlined, among other things, that:

  • Nine percent of all email sent bounced, while three percent was virus email and one percent phishing
  • Nearly 44 percent of all spam came from the US and another 13.6 percent came from China, the book says
  • 52.2 percent of spam focused on pharmaceuticals, and 15.5 percent pitched "enhancer" products

It's not all spam though, among the other digital facts uncovered were:

  • 18.3 percent of the world's Internet users are from the US, while 11.1 percent are from China and 8 percent from Japan
  • Venture capitalists invested less money in the US software and bio-technology industries in 2005 than in 2004, despite overall capital investment in IT services growing by more than 50 percent
  • There are a combined 233.6 million residents of the US and UK using the Internet as of the end of 2005
  • English is the language used by 312.8 million Internet users; Chinese is second with 132.3 million speakers online
  • The total number of Internet users passed one billion in 2005, up from 420 million in 2000
  • US online sales were $23.6 bn in the last three months of 2005, up from $19.1 bn in 2004 and $9.4 bn in 2001
  • E-commerce represents 2.5 percent of total retail sales in the US
  • Global revenues of security software vendors grew from $7.9 bn in 2003 to an estimated $10 bn in 2005

And much else besides...