Letter: Is BTB E-Mail Append Steering Us Over the CAN-SPAM Cliff?

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In the Nov. 3 issue of DM News-iMarketing News Daily and within your printed supplement DM News' Essential Guide to E-Mail Marketing, ListK chairman Michael Price authors the article, "Best Practices in Appending." Overall, it's a very useful and informative write-up. However, we hope Mr. Price isn't steering those interested in business-to-business e-mail appending over the CAN-SPAM cliff.

Don't get me wrong. CAN-SPAM regulation is not entirely black and white; there's an awful lot of gray verbiage open to one's interpretation. Nonetheless, first consider the following excerpt from the article: "Business appends typically are done by creating a 'profile' of a company's e-mail address format and applying this profile to the name, which creates the likely address."

Now, take a look at CAN-SPAM sec 5 (b) (1) (A) (ii) stating that electronic mail is unlawful if "the electronic mail address of the recipient was obtained using an automated means that generates possible electronic mail addresses by combining letters, or numbers into numerous permutations." Our interpretation is that you cannot create or manufacture e-mail addresses. Period.

Here's something else to think about. When it comes to e-mail consent, CAN-SPAM Sec 3 (1) (b) states, "If the message is from a party other than the party to which the recipient communicated such consent, the recipient was given clear and conspicuous notice at the time the consent was communicated that the recipient's electronic mail address could be transferred to such other party for the purpose of initiating commercial electronic mail messages." Needless to say, an e-mail address that was created from a profile could never have provided such consent.

Years ago and before CAN-SPAM, our firm developed and promoted a BTB e-mail append product that relied on the manufacture of e-mail addresses. Today, we'd rather be safe than sorry and prefer to employ one-to-one matching when it comes to e-mail appending, for consumer and BTB. The drop from the CAN-SPAM cliff is just too steep.

Ed Bocknik, Executive vice president, eCommerce Services, Direct Media


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