Most of us probably know about the “SPAM” problem by now and attempts to deal with it through the Unsolicited Electronic Message Act. SPAM clogs up the Internet, disrupts email delivery, reduces business productivity, raises Internet access fees, irritates recipients, and erodes people’s confidence in using email. None of us want to receive it, but are we inadvertent perpetrators? Here are the key criteria to find out…
A closer look at “consent” – the key issue with spam
Is all unsolicited commercial email branded as SPAM? It’s not quite that simple… it’s ok as long as you have some kind of consent (that hasn’t been withdrawn by an unsubscribe facility or otherwise):
i.e. direct indication from the person you wish to contact that it is ok to send a message, such as filling in a paper form, ticking a box on a website, or a conversation by phone or face-to-face.
i.e. the recipient has published their electronic address, e.g. on their website, without accompanying statement that they don’t want to receive unsolicited electronic messages. The message must also be relevant to the business, role, functions, or duties of the recipient.
i.e. where your existing relationship with the recipient means there is a reasonable expectation of messages being sent, and the message is relevant to the business, role, functions, or duties of the recipient.
So, in simple terms, if you have a relevant business relationship with recipients on your list, you should be ok, but if they don’t know you, you’ll need either explicit or deemed consent.
Two more basic requirements to be clear of the law
If you have consent in one of the above forms, you’ll be safe from the law, as long as your email:
clearly identifies the sender and contact information
includes an unsubscribe facility (that actually works)