More Time to Comment on Spam Regulation

The Federal Trade Commission has extended the comment period on regulations relating to the Can Spam act, moving it to April 20 after five trade organizations asked for more time. Originally the deadline had been April 12.

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA), the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAAs), the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the Consumer Bankers Association (CBA), and the Magazine Publishers of America cited the need for more time to consult with their memberships. The groups mentioned religious holidays — Passover and Easter — as a complicating factor.

The most important rulemaking the organizations want more time to comment upon is the “primary purpose” issue. The FTC must decide how to determine what constitutes a “commercial electronic mail message,” and, therefore, what types of messages should be regulated by the act.

The Online Publishers Association weighed in on that issue, specifically suggesting that the FTC designate content-based messages sent by its members, and “forward to a friend” messages sent via their sites, to be outside the scope of the act. It also wants opt-in commercial messages sent by its members — such as messages from sponsors — to be considered “from” the publishers.

The commission is also still seeking comment on how to define “transactional or relationship messages;” whether the 10-business-day period for honoring opt-out requests is reasonable; and whether anything beyond email harvesting and dictionary attacks should be considered “aggravated violations.” The FTC is also seeking general comments on the implementation of the act.

The comment period for one of the most controversial provisions of the act, the Do-Not-E-Mail list, closed March 31. The DMA and the ANA both weighed in with opposition to a registry, arguing that it would do nothing to impact the spam problem and would harm legitimate businesses.

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