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International Anti-Spam Rules



If you use email communications to promote or market your organization, products, or services, you need to follow the Anti-Spam rules based on the countries your recipients reside in instead of the country or email origin. So, if you are sending to Canada residents, you have to make sure that you are compliant to Canadian spam laws.

There are some basic attributes that your email should always have. These include adding your contact information inside every promotional email that you send. You also need to include your company’s physical address or PO Box. Your emails should always give your users a clear and unambiguous option to opt out from the email communications; so there should always be an unsubscribe link present.

There are at least 33 countries which require explicit opt-in from the end user before you can send a promotional email to them. And Germany requires double opt-in. Italy’s anti-spam laws are very strict. You can even face imprisonment for sending spam. So, if you are sending email to Italian recipients, you need to make sure you are following the rules properly.

However, the anti-spam related opt-in practices have come into limelight in last couple of years since Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) became law in July 2014. CASL is one of the most complex and toughest anti-spam legislations implemented. After a 3 year transitional period, the law will be fully enforced in July 2017. The law requires express or implied consent before a promotional email can be sent to a Canadian resident, and allows for fines as much as $10 Million for violations.

(Know more at: Fight Spam)

Various other countries Anti-Spam laws also provide for stern actions against the offenders.

Still, there are over 164 countries around the world that either have only opt-out legislation or no legislation. You can send them promotional emails unless they unsubscribe.

What you should do:

  • You need to Institute opt-in for 33 countries and double opt-in for Germany to make sure you are not caught in wrong foot. By doing this, you are not only proving to be good corporate citizen but you are saving yourself from legal actions.
  • You need to keep your database clean and ensure that the country information is collected for every contact record.
  • Also, you always need to be updated with respect to the latest changes in laws in countries around the world.
  • Maintain a designator in the database for Single Opted-In, Double Opted-In, Opted-Out, and Implied Opted-In. For current records, assign values based on who have previously subscribed or have engaged in business (e.g., customers and partners).
  • Seek opt-in for all people in the database from opt-in countries who are not subscribed or engaged. If no express or implied opt-in is received, do not include in promotional email communications.
  • Keep the opt-in history so that you have sufficient data to support you if challenged.

For more information or assistance, contact RightWave.