L-Soft Contrasts CAN-SPAM Act with the European Union Opt-In Directive

Bethesda, MD (November 13, 2003) – Françoise Becker, Chief Technology Officer at L-Soft international, the developers of LISTSERV® software, shares the company's opinion in a recent article about the pitfalls and benefits of the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (CAN-SPAM) compared to the European Union (EU) Opt-in Directive. The CAN-SPAM Act, which recently passed the U.S. Senate and is awaiting approval by the U.S. House of Representatives, allows e-mail marketing messages to be sent to anyone, without permission, until the recipient requests to "opt-out" from receiving the messages. In contrast, the EU Directive 2002/58/EC calls on all member states to enact and enforce "opt-in" legislation, which requires prior consent from recipients before any e-mail marketing message can be sent.

In the article Becker makes reference to the limitations on the types of messages that are considered spam in the CAN-SPAM Act and the EU Directive. She explains how narrowly the CAN-SPAM Act defines unsolicited e-mail and only outlaws messages with a commercial intent, which will make it easy for spammers to include non-commercial content and argue that the primary purpose of their messages is non-commercial. On the other hand, the EU Directive covers all direct e-mail marketing messages, including messages from charitable and political organizations. However, it is still not ideal since it only covers personal e-mails and not business e-mail addresses.

She mentions that the CAN-SPAM Act includes provisions that outline certain technical violations that are not included in the EU Directive, which will help in pursuing spammers. She also criticizes the formation of a Do-Not-Email registry, explaining the challenge of controlling access to legitimate marketers while protecting it from spammers. Fortunately, the CAN-SPAM Act authorizes but does not mandate the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to create the Do-Not-Email registry. Another positive note is that the CAN-SPAM Act requires the FTC to conduct a study and produce a report on the effectiveness of the Act within twenty-four months of its enactment.

"In all, the CAN-SPAM Act is a decent first step in the right direction. Although it goes through some contortions that would have been unnecessary had it simply adopted an 'opt-in' stance, it may be used to pave the way to later federal opt-in legislation," Becker said.

Becker also comments on how having a federal legislation will solve the problem of having disparate state laws that make it difficult for law-abiding companies to do the right thing since e-mail addresses are not linked to geographical locations.

To review Françoise Becker's article visit:

To review additional resources included in the special Opt-In edition of the LISTSERV® at Work newsletter, visit:

About L-Soft

L-Soft develops and sells software and outsourcing services for managing e-mail newsletters, discussion groups and marketing campaigns. Founded in 1994, L-Soft has been instrumental in the proliferation of e-mail marketing thanks to the popularity of its flagship software, LISTSERV®. Since then, L-Soft has expanded its portfolio of products and services to include e-mail delivery, outsourcing and consulting services. Recognized in 2003 as Maryland's 37th fastest-growing technology company by Deloitte & Touche, L-Soft's products deliver about 35 million messages a day to more than 130 million list subscriptions. The company serves approximately 3,000 clients worldwide, including Microsoft, IBM, The New York Times, AOL-Time Warner/CNN, Dow Jones/The Wall Street Journal, The United Nations, the U.S. Senate and Harvard University.

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