Email violations and penalties
In 2003 the Federal Trade Commission of the United States passed the CAN-SPAM Act. This quote, taken from the FTC website describes the rules in a nutshell.
The CAN-SPAM Act, a law that sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out tough penalties for violations.
Despite its name, the CAN-SPAM Act doesn’t apply just to bulk email. It covers all commercial messages, which the law defines as “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service,” including email that promotes content on commercial websites. The law makes no exception for business-to-business email. That means all email – for example, a message to former customers announcing a new product line – must comply with the law.
Recently the European Union took this a step further. The changes made by the GDPR (EU General Data Protection Supervisory Authority) will have a worldwide ripple effect.
The GDPR sanctions can have a material impact on the operations of a company – and in the most serious of cases cause balance sheets to simply implode. The GDPR rules under Article 83 allow consumers to better control their personal data and give regulators the power to impose fines of 20 million euros ($23 million) or up to 4 percent of global annual turnover of the preceding fiscal year, whichever is higher, for violations.
While businesses in the USA are not subject to these GDPR penalties and fines, we believe that it is just a matter of time before the same standards are enacted here. There are many ways to stay compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act as well as GDPR standards and one of which is very simple.
If you are mass sharing information electronically with customers, prospects, the press or other interested parties, use an email marketing tool such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, HubSpot, etc. Do NOT send promotions, invitations, info or any marketing material via conventional email, and certainly do NOT put everyone’s address in the TO, CC or BCC field! It may not only violate the CAN-SPAM Act, but at the very least the people receiving your message will not want their email address shared with other people without their consent as NO ONE wants their email widely distributed without their permission!
As always, if you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact us!