Communications of the IIMA


Unsolicited commercial mail (also known as spam and junk mail) can inconvenience tens of millions of Internet users and impose huge costs on Internet Service Providers. Realizing the need to boost competitiveness and consumer confidence, the European Union (EU) and the United States have instituted various legal frameworks and policies to regulate unsolicited commercial mail. The EU has adopted an opt-in approach to spam mail, which means e-marketers need to seek the permission of consumers before they send out commercial emails, while the US CAN SPAM Act takes an opt-out approach. The EU's opt-in regime is viewed as offering greater safeguards against spam mail. Despite the EU Directive and the US federal law, the barrage of junk e-mail continues to grow. This paper discusses the issue of spam mail and makes a comparative analysis of the two legal approaches and their implications on the industry and private citizens.