E-mail Marketing Companies Announce Industry Coalition

Several top email marketers and ad serving companies today announced the creation of a new industry group to promote email professional standards for online communication and marketing. Founding members of the Responsible Electronic Communication Alliance include ad networks DoubleClick, 24/7 Media and Phase2Media, as well as direct marketers FloNetwork, BigFoot Interactive, ClickAction, Digital Impact, Responsys, @Once, Acxiom, promotional marketer Netcentives, permission emailers yesmail and EmailChannel, and the American List Council.

The organization tapped widely-regarded Internet privacy attorney Christopher Wolf as president.

“There is legitimate concern among Internet users about the email they’re receiving,” said Wolf, a practicing attorney with Proskauer Rose.

“RECA is a conscientious attempt by our members to address that concern in a positive way,” Wolf said. “RECA will foster action — the implementation of conduct standards that give Net users control over the email marketing and communication they receive.”

Wolf, who is also chairman of the Anti-Defamation League‘s Internet committee, has handled several high-provile Internet privacy cases in the past.

Two years ago, he represented a gay Navy sailor in a federal action involving an ISP’s disclosure of personal information about the sailor.

Joining RECA as executive director is longtime e-commerce industry advocate Peter Arnold. Arnold served as spokesman for the Internet Tax Fairness Coalition, an association of e-commerce companies during its 1988 successful lobby of Congress against Internet taxation.

More recently, Arnold served as executive director of the Hands Off The Internet coalition, which lobbied against regulation of high-speed Net access.

RECA’s formation comes at a time of increased public attention to email marketing practices.

In July, the FTC published an endorsement of “fair information practices principles” requiring, among other things user opt-out capabilities and privacy disclosure. According to terms of the alliance’s charter, RECA members must subscribe to and endorse those principles.

“Under the guidelines being developed by RECA, which are premised on the FTC-endorsed Fair Information Practices, only consumers who consent to receive email will be sent messages from our members,” Wolf said.

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