The A-Z Of Anti-Spam Legislation

Spam isn’t just annoying, it is illegal.

Anti-spam legislation is an important part of running a business’ email marketing campaign. There is a lot to consider to ensure you’re compliant with laws across the world. So, here is a quick A to Z of anti-spam legislation to help you understand laws to ensure you’re compliant.

A – Anti-spam laws

There are numerous laws across the world. Many of them have the same legal obligations, such as senders have to ensure recipients have opted into receiving messages and can unsubscribe from your list at any time.

B – Business

Many laws differentiate between the consumer and business. For instance, you can send businesses unsolicited emails unless there is any personal information in the email or they are a sole trader/partnership.

C – CAN-SPAM laws

The Canadian laws that specify what can and cannot be sent in email campaigns and is considered spam. These are some of the strictest laws in the world, and are therefore one of the best to follow.

D – Double Opt-In

This is a process where the user has to confirm their opt-in decision by confirming their subscription to your list via an email.

E- E-mail

Spam laws are often specific to email marketing campaigns but there is no definition of what is a campaign. A single email can be defined as a campaign. That is why legislation often states that punishments are done on a per-email basis not a per campaign basis.

F – Fines

Many countries will fine your business should you break the anti-spam laws. Most fines are done on a per recipient basis not on a per campaign basis.


An EU law that determines what data can be collected and saved by a business. EU laws don’t just affect EU businesses, if you have traffic or subscribers from the EU, then you must follow the rules.


All emails are tested for spam content. You need to be sure that your emails code (HTML) passes these tests to ensure deliverability.

I – Included Content

When asking for permission to contact subscribers, you need to be specific in what you’re asking to contact them about. If you request permission to send them weekly updates from your blog and then send them a marketing message about a service, you can be fined as they didn’t opt into this content.

J – Judge

Most countries have an organisation that judges whether a company has broken anti-spam laws. They will investigate infractions and deal out punishments.

K – Kill

Failing to comply with anti-spam laws can be very expensive and can kill your business off financially. It is more cost effective to build your mailing list with white hat techniques.

L – Laws

Many small business owners think that Spam laws are just suggestions, but they are laws. Some countries will imprison repeat offenders.

M – Mailing Lists

Many laws subversively ban bought mailing lists because the subscribers haven’t specifically opted into your marketing content.

N – No Third Party Exemption

If you have obtained the data from a third party, that doesn’t make the third party responsible. It is the sender of the email campaign to ensure that all recipients have agreed to the contact. Therefore, if you’re sending content to a partner’s list, it’s best if the partner sends the message from their own brand rather than give you the list to send.

O – Omission (Unsubscribe)

According to anti-spam laws, when a subscriber requests that their name is removed from your mailing list, this should be done so within a reasonable amount of time. With today’s technology, that normally means within one working day.

P – Personal Data

Personal data is any information that can identify someone. Laws state that all personal data kept must be relevant and necessary for business purposes. Therefore, if you don’t need a physical address, you shouldn’t keep it.

Q – Quarantine

To ensure that you are compliant with all anti-spam laws across the world, you should run a double opt-in campaign. Until you’ve received confirmation, you should quarantine all new subscribers.

R – Recipient

The recipient is classed as the person who the message is intended for. You should send emails to recipients who have subscribed to your mailing list and not send a message for someone via another email account.

S – Spam

Spam is considered any communication that is unwanted by the recipient and is used to sell products/services.

T – Traffic

It is estimated that as much as half of all emails sent today are spam messages. By reducing the amount of spam sent, the experience of everyone on the internet can be improved.

U – Undeliverable

While laws don’t affect deliverability of your campaigns, by sending spam too often, your mail server can be blocked from sending emails by other servers. This blacklisting makes it less effective for you to earn revenue from email campaigns.

V – Viruses

Spam is often associated with viruses, with many campaigns linking into sites that download malware. If you send spam, you will be associated with these campaigns.

W – Worldwide

Many anti-spam laws cross borders and you have to ensure that your email marketing campaigns follow the relevant regulations.

X – ‘X’pert

At times it can be necessary to consult an expert if you have any doubts over whether you are adhering to correct legislation or not.

Y – Your Responsibility

Whether you use online software or just your own server, it is your responsibility to comply with the laws. You should also make sure that any third party company sending mails out in your name are following anti-spam laws.

Z – Zzz

Don’t fall asleep; in other words, don’t get complacent. With any type of legislation you need to make sure you stay up-to-date with changes. They regularly happen.


There is a lot to think about when complying with anti-spam laws. The A-Z above, is a quick guide to some of the aspects you might not know about. You can look at some of the other articles we have in relation to spam here.

How do you ensure you’re complying with anti-spam laws? What could you do better?

Let us know in the comments below.

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