It’s easy to overlook email compliance when you get carried away with other aspects of your email marketing campaign. There is so much going on – the email design, the copy, the call-to-action, the offer… However, it is so crucial to take the time to make sure your emails are compliant with anti-spam laws from around the world. Why do we need to know international anti-spam laws? Because, contrary to popular belief, anti-spam laws apply to the location of the recipient, not the sender. This means if you have even one international subscriber on your email list, your emails need to comply with their legal requirements.

The penalties for violating these laws can be severe. Violators of the U.S. CAN-SPAM Law are liable for a fine up to $16,000. Earlier this year, Quebec-based company, Compu-finder was fined $1.1 million for breaking the Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL). That’s a lot of money. Many email marketers in North America are familiar with CAN-SPAM and CASL, but how many know about international anti-spam laws? They can be tricky to navigate, since anti-spam laws vary from one country to another. Even if you are well-versed in the worldly laws, it doesn’t hurt to review them. Here’s a roundup of the two major spam regulations in North America, along with overviews of anti-spam laws from other countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.

Please note that this blog post is meant to provide you with general information on international anti-spam laws, and does not constitute legal advice. Our email marketing experts at US Data Corporation are available to assist you if you need help. However, we are not attorneys, so please contact a licensed lawyer for legal advice.

United States – Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM)

  • Don’t use false or misleading header information.
  • Don’t use deceptive subject lines.
  • Email subscribers must be provided with a postal address (street address or P.O. Box).
  • You must tell the subscriber how to opt-out of emails and provide a functioning unsubscribe link.
  • Email subscriber must be allowed to unsubscribe by using a link, replying to an email address or sending a letter to a postal address.
  • Opt-out requests must be honored within 10 business days.
  • Penalty: Violators can be fined up to $16,000 per email.

Canada – Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL)

  • CASL applies to any kind of electronic message, including email, text messages, instant messages, etc.
  • The law applies to any marketer sending electronic messages to or within Canada.
  • You must clearly state to the subscriber that they will be receiving your emails once they opt-in.
  • Email subscribers must be provided with the sender’s name or organization, postal address, and phone number.
  • Penalty: Violators can be fined up to $10 million for companies and $1 million for individuals.

Australia – Spam Act 2003

  • You must have the receiver’s permission to email them.
  • Emails without consent can be sent by the government, registered charities, registered political parties, and educational institutions for current and former students.
  • Email subscribers must be allowed to unsubscribe by using a link, replying to an email address or sending a letter to a postal address.
  • Opt-out requests must be honored within 5 business days.

Europe Union – Directive 2002/58/EC on Privacy and Communication (E-Privacy Directive)

  • The European Union is different from a federal system such as the US, because it doesn’t make laws for the various countries that make up the EU; the member countries maintain their sovereignty. However, the EU does pass “directive” regulations, which instruct member countries to pass certain laws, including the E-Privacy Directive.
  • Article 13 of the E-Privacy Directive states that email recipients must give explicit consent to receive emails.
  • The opt-out option must be easy and clear to use.
  • Penalty: Varies by member countries. Different countries of the EU have additional rules.

United Kingdom – Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR) and Data Protection Act

  • Email subscriber must be provided with a postal address.
  • Emails cannot be sent without permission
  • Consent must specify the type of communication that can be sent (emails, phone calls, direct mail, etc.)
  • Email subscriber must be provided with the sender’s name or organization and contact information enabling unsubscription.
  • The PECR does not specify a timeline for when a sender has to honor unsubscriptions, but the law expects removal within 28 days.
  • Penalty: Up to £500,000

Many of these regulations may be obvious, but they can be confusing if you do not fully understand how the rules work. If you are an email marketer in North America, the CAN-SPAM Law and CASL may be the most important to you. However, if you plan on reaching audiences in other countries, be aware of these various anti-spam laws. If you have any further questions about anti-spam laws or clean, opted-in emails, please contact US Data Corporation at (888) 578-3282.

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