Heads Up! Updated Email Marketing Regulations for Different Countries for 2024

Email marketing regulations are in place in different countries to ensure that the recipients' right to privacy are respected. Different countries have specific laws, with the Spam Act of 2033 for Australia as an example.

Heads Up! Updated Email Marketing Regulations for Different Countries for 2024

When was the last time you checked and read your emails? If you have accessed your inbox in the previous 24 hours, you have proved a point: emails get read and remain effective in reaching an audience. It’s why business owners still include emails in their marketing toolkit today. 

To ensure the marketing campaign's success, many business owners and marketers work hard to meet crucial metrics, such as click rate, open rate, and list growth rate. However, in our rush to grow our email lists and convert leads, we sometimes sacrifice our recipients’ privacy. Spam becomes an issue, and specific practices become questionable as they violate the recipients’ trust.

This shouldn't be the case when one plans to run an email marketing that benefits the business and its target recipients. To run effective email marketing, it’s always essential to balance the interest of the company and the potential customers’ welfare and right to privacy. As such, it’s a requirement that every marketer must also know and comply with existing email marketing regulations specific to the country where they operate. 

Australia’s Spam Act- Here’s what you should know as an email marketer

You should know about the Spam Act 2003 if your business operates in Australia. This Australian law regulates commercial electronic messages or emails, highlighting key provisions such as consent, unrequested messages, and identifying information, which we’ll further explain below.

The law prohibits sending unsolicited emails or spam using an Australian link. Under the law, an Australian link exists if the email is from Australia, was commissioned in the country, or from other countries but sent to an Australian address.

Australia’s Spam Act has three key elements: consent, unrequested/unsubscribe messages, and identifying information. Let’s take a closer look at these elements and learn how marketers can still operate and send emails under the law:

  • Consent. While Australia’s Spam Act prohibits unrequested emails, it still provides a way for marketers to send emails legally: through consent. This act distinguishes between two types of consent: expressed and inferred.  Express consent is easy to understand; the recipient has agreed to receive the email. For example, your recipients or potential customers have signed up for a newsletter, ticked a box on the homepage, or verbally agreed through a call. Inferred consent is slightly different since it requires a more nuanced appreciation of the circumstances. For example, if the customer has completed a purchase and hasn’t opted out of the list, the marketer can infer consent and send marketing emails.
  • Identifying information. Transparency is a critical principle in Australia’s Spam Act. If you’re sending emails, it’s essential to include clear and accurate information about the company or business. In short, you can’t hide behind a misleading or hazy profile or identity. If you’re a business owner, you must state the business and the persons sending the emails. The law says that recipients must know who is contacting them, which can help them make informed decisions on how to proceed with these emails.
  • Unsubscribe. Australia’s Spam Act 2003 also requires that all commercial emails feature an unsubscribe option. In short, you’ll need to give your recipients an easy way to opt-out and never receive your emails again.  In designing your emails, you can include an ‘unsubscribe link.’ This feature of the Act empowers the consumers, allowing them to decide what to do with the emails.

Notes on Australia’s Spam Act

There are certain exceptions in Australia. The law indicates that, in general, businesses can’t use scraped lists. However, some organizations, such as educational students (when sending out to current or former students) and registered charities, government bodies, and political parties, can use harvested lists. Failure to comply with the law means costly penalties, up to $1.1 million for individuals or $5.5 million for companies. Also, individuals can be prosecuted under the law and, when found guilty, can serve up to five years’ imprisonment.

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation or CASL

The primary law in Canada governing commercial emails is the Anti-Spam Legislation or the CASL. Experts and marketers say that the country’s Anti-Spam Legislation is one of the strictest laws on emails in the world. If you’re running a business in Canada and rely on email marketing, then there are a few requirements you just know:

  • Sender information. When designing your commercial emails, you must include all relevant information about yourself or the business you’re representing. If it’s your business, you must include your name, physical mailing address, and other contact information such as email, phone number, and website.
  • Unsubscribe option. Your email must also include a section or link where the recipients can easily opt out and never receive these messages again. The link or button should be easy to use and accessible.

Like in other countries, consent is a critical requirement when running an email campaign. Under Canadian spam laws, there are two types of consent: expressed and implied.

An express consent means the person has agreed to receive a commercial electronic message or CEM. This person must act to express consent, meaning you should get it through an opt-in mechanism. For example, a customer can express his consent by signing up for a newsletter. Note: Any electronic message that features a request for express consent is also a CEM and thus falls under CASL.

Under Canadian anti-spam laws, express consent is not time-sensitive, which means you can send emails until these consumers have expressed that they no longer want to receive them.

Then, you have implied consent, which is tricky to understand and follow. However, as section 10(9) of the CASL explains, you can rely on implied consent under certain conditions. For example, if you have a business relationship with the customer or boast an existing non-business relationship, for instance, as members of your organization. Implied consent also works if the persons make their addresses public. If email addresses are publicly published, they must not be accompanied by a statement saying they don’t want to receive communications. 

So, what happens if a recipient asks to stop receiving these commercial messages?

If you encounter this situation, you must respect the request. Under Canadian law, business owners have ten days to comply with the request. Remember, non-compliance with the CASL can lead to penalties, including a penalty of up to $10 million for corporations. Also, corporate directors can be held liable for these acts, and employees are liable for the company's actions.

The law also allows individuals to sue companies and others for damages caused by these unwanted commercial messages, provided the harm is proven. However, if the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission or CRTC has taken action, you can no longer file a complaint.

United Kingdom and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR)

The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) is the primary law governing email marketing in the United Kingdom. This law complements the aims of the Data Protection Act and the UK GDPR, highlighting consumers’ specific privacy rights about electronic communications. Specifically, this UK law features particular rules on marketing calls, emails, texts, and faxes, using cookies, keeping communications services secure, and general customer privacy.

The PECR works like CASL and the CAN-SPAM Act of the United States, in which businesses must share a valid address and be transparent when sending commercial emails. Consent is also crucial in sending commercial emails to recipients and potential customers.

In the UK, you’ll need the person’s consent before you can send an email. Consent is valid if it’s clear, specific, and freely given. Expressing consent means that the person performed an explicit positive action, like clicking an icon, ticking a box, or even sending an email, and more importantly, the person fully understands that he’s giving consent.

One effective way to obtain consent is to let the person check an opt-in box confirming that they welcome marketing emails. Under the law, business owners and marketers must always record what individuals have consented to, when, and how they allow consent.

Be careful when sending “cold emails” internationally. While this practice is allowed in the US, UK and European laws don’t allow sending cold emails.

Fines for non-compliance

In case of violations or non-compliance, individuals and companies may be fined up to £500,000.

United States and its 2003 CAN-SPAM Act

Businesses that use email for marketing must comply with the requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act. The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 provides the rules and requirements for commercial messages and emails, empowering the recipients the right to cancel these emails. 

On the surface, the CAN-SPAM Act only applies to bulk emails. This isn’t the case since the law applies to all commercial messages, defined as electronic mail messages or emails with a commercial or advertising intent. All emails for business, like announcing a new product line or sharing discounts, must comply with the law. Here are some of the main requirements under the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003:

  • Emails must be transparent, and the source must be identified, including the originating domain, physical address, and email address.
  • Subject lines must be clear and reflect the content of the message.
  • There should be a clear identification that the email is an advertisement.
  • The email message must include a section where the recipients can opt out or request to stop receiving these commercial messages. This section must offer recipients a straightforward process to opt-out, ensuring the message is easy to spot. 
  • Remember that subscribers can also opt-out, and businesses must always honor these requests within ten days at no cost.

Additional notes on the CAN-SPAM Act

Non-compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act's requirements can be costly, with each violation charging up to $51,744. Also, the concept of consent works differently under this legislation. The US CAN-SPAM Act uses an opt-out scheme. As a business owner, there’s no need to gain consent to contact potential subscribers, but you must provide a convenient and easy way for them to opt-out and honor the request within ten business days.

Finally, email legislation and other rules may vary by state, such as in California, where the CCPA is followed. In short, you’ll need to practice due diligence before sending marketing emails.

Always follow the best practices in email marketing

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As a business owner who relies on email marketing, it’s essential to comply with the applicable email regulations. Complying with existing laws is not just a legal obligation; it’s also an opportunity for your business to build trust and boost its reputation. Regardless of the location of your business and target customers, there are a few best practices you can always consider:

  • Always obtain consent.  Ask for expressed consent from your recipients. You can ask them personally, let them check a box, or even sign up for a newsletter. Whenever possible, always use a double opt-in mechanism to verify their consent.
  • Provide an opt-out option. The message must include a link or a section letting recipients opt out of the email service. Once they have expressed their intention, honor the request immediately.
  • Be transparent when sending emails. You should be open and transparent about your subject line, sender, and content. Always identify yourself or the business and provide your address.
  • Stay informed. Sometimes, these spam and email marketing laws are updated to reflect the changing times. As a business owner, you must keep tabs on the latest developments in your country.
  • Manage your emails and data responsibly. Handle emails and customer data responsibly, keeping in mind their privacy rights. You can also invest in email tools and marketing services, like Maileroo, to ensure efficiency in sending your emails.

Complying with existing laws can be challenging, but it’s also an opportunity to build your branding and business.  Before sending emails, always practice due diligence and consider your recipients’ welfare in mind. This approach lets you quickly build trust, a crucial currency in a highly competitive business environment.