DMA Releases International Anti-Spam Law Summary

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) on Wednesday released a summary of the spam laws in 41 countries and the European Union, designed to help its members keep on the right side of the law when sending commercial email abroad.

The summary, covering Albania to the United Kingdom, includes bare-bones information on the varied national laws: title; opt-in or opt-out; and relevant rules and conditions.

“Legitimate email marketers care about the rules, and play by them, at home and abroad,” Robert Wientzen, the DMA’s president and chief executive, said in a statement. “By complying with laws governing cross-border email marketing, we will ensure that this valuable new marketing channel remains viable.”

The need to be more mindful of international anti-spam laws is made more urgent by the looming deadline on Oct. 31 for European Union member countries to enact a European Commission directive that establishes “opt-in” as the de facto email marketing standard across the continent.

However, the release of the summary also calls attention to what the DMA has declined to release: email industry guidelines drawn up by its independent subsidiary the Association of Interactive Marketing (AIM).

The release of the best practices document has been repeatedly delayed, most recently last week, when the DMA informed AIM that it decided to put them on “indefinite” hold while it reviewed the recommendations.

The DMA has declined to say why the guidelines were shelved, but the organization has well-known differences with a number of email marketers over how to define spam. While many email marketers have accepted the common perception that spam is unsolicited commercial bulk email, the DMA has chosen to define it as fraudulently sent email.

This position has opened a gulf between the direct marketing behemoth, which has over 4,700 members, and the email marketing community, according to several email marketing executives.

NetCreations President Michael Mayor, the chairman of the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s email committee, said yesterday that he has decided to withdraw the committee’s support for the best practices document. He said he would publish the original AIM best practices document as IAB best practices if the DMA released watered-down guidelines.

Mayor has been critical of the DMA’s approach to the spam problem, including its decision to release a spam policy statement in May that did not define what constitutes spam.

The co-chairman of AIM’s email committee, Rapp Digital’s Ian Oxman, resigned last week in protest of the DMA’s approach to spam and relations with AIM.

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