FTC Seems Satisfied with Self Regulation…For Now

In last week’s eec/DMA webinar, Peder Magee, Esq., FTC Privacy and Theft attorney for the Bureau of Consumer Protection joined DMA’s VP of Government Affairs, Jerry Cerasale, and a panel of email privacy experts to discuss the latest thinking at the agency.

For now, that stance seems to suggest that the self regulation of the industry is working. Magee noted that some concepts “transcend the medium” when it comes to self regulation. “Transparency, prominent notice, use of personal data, and providing the ability to opt out easily” all are areas the FTC continues to watch.

Certification and feedback loop programs were noted by panelist Tom Bartel, CPO of Return Path, as an example of how the industry cooperates in order to make self regulation work. Especially for certification programs, “Email marketers put themselves forward voluntarily to be held to high standards,” Bartel says. “Including the things Peder listed about prominence. Once they are vouched for by the third party, the ISPs can make good decisions about what to do with email from those senders.

“Participation in these programs shows marketers are willing to go way past the law, and well past best practices,” Bartel states.

The FTC remains aggressive about prosecuting offenders under CAN-SPAM. Magee says, “CAN-SPAM and some of the filtering technologies have reduced the spam that consumers were getting a lot more of.” He notes that the agency also brings cases against phishing scams, often initiated through email. Webinar moderator and DMA VP of Government Affairs Jerry Cerasale noted, “The FTC is the most active regulatory body in this area. Opt-in laws in Europe have not resulted in as many cases as the FTC.”

Download the recording (free until this Thursday) and read the summary of the event.