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Based on direct input from members, the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA), the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), and the Direct Marketing Association (The DMA) have released a set of nine guidelines that call on marketers to institute certain practices that will defend and enhance the viability of legitimate e-mail marketing. The nine guidelines are:
1. The subject line of an e-mail must be honest and not misleading or deceptive.
2. A valid return e-mail address and the physical address of the sender should be clearly identified. Marketers are encouraged to use their company or brand names in their domain address and prominently throughout the message.
3 . An e-mail should clearly identify the sender and the subject matter at the beginning of the e-mail.
4. All commercial e-mail (except for billing purposes) must provide consumers with a clear and conspicuous electronic option to be removed from lists for future e-mail messages from the sender. The removal process must be easy to find and easy to use.
5. If a company sending commercial e-mail has multiple distinct brands or affiliates, notice and opt-out should be provided based on the likely perspective of the average consumer. Each separate brand or affiliate, as the consumer is likely to perceive it, must offer notice and a process for removal from marketing lists in all commercial e-mails (except for billing purposes).
6. Marketers should not acquire e-mail addresses surreptitiously through automated mechanisms (such as robots or spiders) without the consumer/customer’s informed consent. This includes a prohibition on dictionary attacks or other mechanisms for fabricating e-mail addresses without providing notice and choice to the consumer.
7. “Remove” means “remove.” The electronic remove feature must be reliable, functional, and prompt.
8. E-mail lists must not be sold or provided to unrelated third parties unless the owner of the list has provided notice and the ability to be removed from such transfer to each e-mail address on the list. Related third parties include other brands/subsidiaries within the same parent company as well as outside affinity partners as a reasonable consumer is likely to perceive them.