Britain's ad Watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), has established tough new rules governing the use of email and text messages for marketing purposes.
Under revised codes of practice, introduced yesterday, "explicit consent" of consumers is required before marketing via email or text messages. Marketers may however "market their similar products to existing customers without explicit consent" providing recipients are given the opportunity to decline to receive further messages. Also marketing messages should be clearly identified as such.
Essentially the ASA is enforcing the opt-in approach to commercial advertising advocated by European Union policies passed last year.
The rules create a further avenue for UK users to object to spam messages. Complaints about spamming can now be investigated by the ASA for the first time.
Mirapoint, a producer of messaging appliances which incorporate anti-spam technology, welcomes ASA's revised guidelines, but questions their effectiveness. According to Mirapoint, spam volumes have doubled in the last three months, and much of this originates from overseas - and therefore beyond the reach of the ASA.
"The new ASA rules are an important step in tackling these disturbing increases, but email users shouldn't expect to see a huge impact on the volume of junk email they receive," said Jamie Cowper, EMEA channel manager at Mirapoint. "We estimate that 60 per cent of UK junk mail originates from outside the UK, primarily from the USA and Asia, and so does not fall under the ASA's jurisdiction."
A multi-pronged approach to tackling spam, through legislation, community action and anti-spam technology, is needed to fight the junk mail menace, Mirapoint argues. ®
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