Anti-spam legislation at the federal level is coming, perhaps before the next presidential election. Earlier this year, Senators Conrad Burns (Republican, MT) and Ron Wyden (Democrat, OR) introduced the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. Thanks in part to the endorsement of the Direct Marketing Association, this bill quickly became the frontrunner and recently won approval in the Senate by a margin of 97 to 0.
Now just a House vote and a presidential signature away from becoming law, the CAN-SPAM Act merits some scrutiny by the online marketing industry to figure out where we might be headed and whether the end of spam is in sight.
Definitions: What Does It All Mean?
Definitions provide insight into the intent of the legislature, but what happens when the definitions themselves leave much to the imagination? Let's explore a few potential problem spots.
1. Affirmative Consent
Up until now, those of us in the online marketing industry have used the terms â€śpermissionâ€ť or â€śopt-inâ€ť to describe the process by which people join legitimate email lists.
The CAN-SPAM Act defines this process as â€śAffirmative Consent,â€ť meaning that â€śthe recipient expressly consented to receive the message, either in response to a clear and conspicuous request for such consent or at the recipient's own initiative.â€ť
Taking the latter part of this definition first, â€śat the recipient's own initiativeâ€ť likely encompasses the way most people sign up for email newslettersâ€”by filling out a form on the Web.
Take the first step (it's free).
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