Since December 2003, the US legal regime for unsolicited commercial email has been opt-out. The law obliged the FTC to investigate introducing a statutory ‘do not email’ list.
Topic: Digital marketing
Who: The Direct Marketing Association of America
Where: New York
When: April 2004
The Direct Marketing Association of America attacked plans by the Federal Trade Commission of the US to introduce a “Do not email” register.
The FTC’s consultation on the possibility of introducing such a list follows the coming into force in December 2003 of the “Can Spam Act” of America which federally introduced an opt-out regime for unsolicited commercial emails.
The 2003 statute obliged the FTC to investigate the possibility of introducing a statutory email preference list. However, the DMA , which fought the original Can Spam Act proposals to the very last, suggests that the introduction of such a list would cost the American nation £12.6 billion (£6.9 billion) in lost revenue. It also believes that a significant chunk of the $33 billion (£18.2 billion) US sales resulting from email could be lost as individuals would no longer receive offers from brands they had previously responded to.
Why this matters:
For some time the Direct Marketing Association of America has in fact already run, on a self regulatory basis, an email preference service called the “e-MPS.” Under this, individuals can, free of charge, register their desire not to receive unsolicited commercial email and marketers who wish to be seen to behave correctly may, in return for a fee, check their email lists against the e-MPS list to ensure they do not send marketing emails to those who have previously opted out.
It has to be said that the existence of the e-MPS service has never been heavily promoted and usage is modest. A statutory version would of course be an altogether different beast and it is not surprising that the industry is baulking at the prospect.
Here in the UK and the rest of Europe, because we have a largely opt-in system thanks to the Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive, the introduction of such an opt-out list would be largely irrelevant, except in a B2B context of course, where the law is still essentially “opt out” where the unsolicited email is to a business email address of a company employee.
Also, the Code of the UK’s DMA does still require its members to check the eMPS for email campaigns directed outside the EU and given the lack of enforcement of current UK/EU laws, and the increasing prevalence of spam, it might in theory be very attractive to UK individuals receiving high levels of unsolicited email to be able to effectively register with a preference service on a “one stop” basis and significantly reduce the levels of spam received.
The downside of course is that those sending spam are hardly likely to be the types to voluntarily check with the eMPS each time they send their corrosive campaigns. So don’t expect any major impetus behind setting up a UK email preference service anytime soon!