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Global CAN-SPAM Laws

United States ~


The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 establishes standards for the sending of commercial e-mail and requires the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce its provisions. The acronym CAN-SPAM derives from the bill's full name: Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003. The bill was sponsored in Congress by Senators Conrad Burns and Ron Wyden.

United Kingdom ~


The British government implemented the relevant EU directive in December 2003 with the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. The legislation has attracted criticism for being too weak, for example by making it legal to send unsolicited email to businesses on a purely opt-out basis. Tougher legislation can be expected in the future. Mainstream advertisers also need to comply with industry self-regulation in the form of various codes of practice.

Australia ~


Australia's anti-spam law is the Spam Act 2003. A 2006 review confirmed the usefulness of the legislation such that significant changes are not expected. There are also two important codes of practice relevant to email marketers

Canada ~


Canada's Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) covers online privacy in detail and contains many provisions relevant to email marketing. In addition, a government-initiated task force recommended specific anti-spam legislation in a 2005 report (see below) and in May 2008 an anti-spam law began progressing through the Canadian parliament.

New Zealand ~


Legislation regulating commercial email finally passed through the New Zealand Parliament at the end of February 2007 in the form of the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act. The original Bill was introduced in mid-2005 and got its first reading in December of the same year. It was then referred to the Commerce Select Committee who reported back at the end of August 2006 with suggested amendments and enhancements.