12 December 2012
Email Marketing
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What’s in Store for Email Marketing after C-28?

Will Canada’s new law affect email marketing in UK?

Upon the recommendation of the Task Force on Spam, the Government of Canada has passed Bill C-28, or the Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Bill last December 2010, aiming to deter cybercrimes done through spam, including phishing, identity theft, and spyware in Canada. This Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) is seen to have far-reaching effects on email legislation throughout the world, including email marketing in UK.

Exactly what does C-28 change in the world of email marketing? How exactly could it affect other email legislation?

The Effects of C-28

Here are some of the highlights of C-28 that could have far-reaching effects on email marketing throughout the world:

  1. On obtaining user consent – C-28 explicitly prohibits unsolicited commercial email, unless it is sent to a user that consented to the said communication. In the new Canadian legislation, the need for obtaining vocal consent for email marketing, which was present in earlier drafts, was removed. Instead, the new law acknowledges the validity of the check boxes as enough proof of consent from the user. Check boxes have long been used by email providers to ask if users want to subscribe to email notifications on products and services. However, there are instances when users cannot clearly discern if they are expressly giving consent.
    Email marketing in UK, for example, usually utilizes “pre-checked” boxes, which users usually skim through and don’t actually notice. In C-28, such discrete acquisition of consent is expressly prohibited.
  2. The option to unsubscribe – The new Canadian law also mandates email marketers to provide an option for users to unsubscribe to email notifications. Email confirmations should also be sent to users the moment they sign up for your email subscription, to enable them to cancel subscription if ever they mistakenly subscribed to your mailing list. Moving forward, opt-out and unsubscribe options should be evident in all emails sent.
  3. On the email service provider – The new legislation also cleared up the issue of whether email service providers or ESPs should be identified as the sender of the content delivered to subscribers, along with the brand being advertised. The answer is no – ESPs don’t need to be named as the sender. However, if the ESP creates the content for the brand, it is necessary to affix “powered by [name of ESP]” or any similar phrase somewhere in the message content, so as to show users that the content was created by the ESP for the brand.

What does C-28 mean for email marketing in UK?

People have to understand that C-28 is a legislation on email marketing regulation, not a new law on privacy. Thus, it is in no way similar to the Communication Data Bill, dubbed as the Snooper’s Charter, which is now pending in the UK parliament.

However, the new law could have indirect effects on email marketing in UK. Punishing egregious spammers has always been on top of the list for legislation on the internet, not just in UK, but also in many parts of the world. Email marketers will do well if they start applying the rules in C-28 as early as now, so as to avoid future violations once a similar law is passed in the UK.

As of now, we can only guess how C-28 will affect marketers, and what its impact could be for Canada-based marketers doing business in the UK. There are still legal questions that need to be succinctly addressed, such as scenarios wherein email marketing in UK reaches users in Canada. Can they be prosecuted? It’s a matter of jurisdiction that still needs to be resolved.

For now, we can only advise that online marketers keep track of new legislations on email marketing, and ensure that their mode of advertising is perfectly legal. At a time when legislation is starting to keep up with the advancement in technology, spammers can no longer hid behind the loopholes in the current constitution, so beware.

Photo Credits: Flickr Creative Commons

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