The DMA's Email Experience Council recently published "The Global Email Marketing Compliance Guide" to document global email and data regulations in a single source. Among the guide's 32 categories are answers to many questions that marketers ask most often. I've excerpted and simplified some below and will discuss others in a future Email Insider column.
1. Opt-in rules: Most countries require permission or "informed"/implied" consent" as a consent standard. The United States and India are the two major holdouts, along with smaller entities like the Bahamas, Bermuda and Singapore.
2. No double opt-in (DOI) imperative: Although marketers debate the value of two-step consent (double or confirmed opt-in), no country requires it. However, some countries, such as Germany, have quirks that make DOI the default standard because it's the best defense in court.
Further, 70 of the 77 countries analyzed require companies to keep consent records. So, although they don't mandate DOI, it becomes an extra level of proof in a legal defense.
3. Cookies requirements vary: Some countries' privacy laws govern using cookies to tie email addresses to website behavior, including the U.K. and other European Union countries.
Others either don't regulate cookie use (United States, China, India), limit regulation to specific uses (Canada) or are unclear whether the laws apply (Pakistan, Thailand, Venezuela).
4. Opt-out mechanism is a must: All countries either require an opt-out mechanism, such as a link to a preference center/unsubscribe page, or aren't clear about what's required. However, figuring out how long the marketer has to process the unsubscribe varies from "ASAP"/immediately to 30 days to the nebulous "as reasonable."
Reminder: Even though the laws in most countries give at least a few days' leeway to process an opt-out, your subscribers expect it to be immediate.
5. Pre-checked opt-in boxes? "Unclear:" A few countries consider a pre-checked opt-in box as not obtaining permission from the user (Canada, China, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands). Others permit it as is or as implied consent (the U.K., the United States). The rest are unclear.
6. Transactional email regulation varies: Although nearly all countries regulate promotional and retargeting email, several exempt transactional or "factual" email, including Australia, China, New Zealand and Taiwan. Others regulate emails that combine promotional, transactional and retargeting content case by case (Canada, United States).
How Should Marketers Comply?
Marketers have two basic paths they can take to comply with this welter of email and data regulations around the world:
In my next Email Insider column, I'll review more email regulations and share elements of an email footer template that will comply with every country’s emails regulations.
Just a reminder: Always check with your own legal staff to verify whether your practices comply with a country’s specific set of regulations.
Until next time, take it up a notch!