FTC Postpones 'Primary-Purpose' E-Mail Rule

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The Federal Trade Commission said this week that it would delay the enforcement of its "primary-purpose" rule for commercial e-mail until March 28. The rule was slated to take effect Feb. 18.

The delay was forced after the Office of Management and Budget determined the commercial e-mail requirement constituted a "major rule" for small businesses. Under the law, such rules cannot take effect until 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

The CAN-SPAM Act has numerous regulations for e-mail whose "primary purpose" is commercial activity. The FTC rule covers e-mails that contain only content advertising or promoting a product or service; transactional messages that would lead a recipient to reasonably think it was an ad message, or the transactional content does not appear at or near the top of the message; and messages with commercial and non-transactional content, if a recipient would reasonably conclude advertising is the purpose of the message.

"The postponement gives the industry time to ensure that it's adjusting to the new interpretations," said Jerry Cerasale, senior vice president of government affairs at the Direct Marketing Association. "We view it as an ongoing effort by the FTC to avoid inadvertently creating law violators out of legitimate companies who simply need a little more time to meet the new provisions."

Brian Morrissey covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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