Upcoming e-mail legislation: friend or foe?

Most of the world already has some sort of privacy data protection in place, but laws are constantly being updated to keep pace with changes in the industry and data use. E-mail spam laws usually aren’t as quick to catch up, but there are some major changes coming to e-mail legislation next year.

What do these changes mean? Here are some items to keep on your radar.

In the European Union (EU), starting next May, tracking mechanisms like cookies will become illegal without explicit permission to use them.

The US will likely try again at federal privacy legislation in 2011, which would require marketers to obtain consumer opting in to collect and process data. The Federal Trade Commission released a privacy report recently that includes recommendations like a “Do-Not-Track” law. Such a law would govern the collection of information about a consumer’s Internet activity to deliver targeted advertisements. Most consumers are grossly unaware of what happens to the data they give out online.

On December 15, Canada passed C-28, an anti-spam bill that makes sending spam illegal and prosecutable. Canada had previously been the only G8 country that didn’t have anti-spam legislation, giving it the reputation of a “spam haven.” The country had been the ninth-largest producer of spam in the world, according to Spamhaus, an anti-spam organization.

As you can see, marketers can expect to see more privacy and e-mail restrictions that will impact how they do business in 2011. This is mostly due to the sheer volume of information about consumers that companies keep without their knowledge. However, since most marketing best practices already include obtaining permission to collect and use data from consumers, these regulations are not something to be feared.

Dennis Dayman is chief privacy and deliverability officer at Eloqua, a marketing automation and demand generation firm.

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