3 Federal Regulations Online Marketers Must Follow – By Anne Mitchell

by FeedFront Staff on March 10, 2010

2009 was an interesting year for changes in Federal regulations which affect Internet marketers.  There were changes to CAN-SPAM, and a revision of rules by the Federal Trade Commission; both of which directly impact Internet marketers.

 Below are three Federal regulations which Internet marketers must follow:

 1.  Email Sent Out Featuring Someone Else’s Product or Service

 Email sent out featuring a third-party’s product or service must also include information about the entity that is actually sending out the email, otherwise the third-party can be deemed solely responsible under CAN-SPAM for handling all opt-outs.  Put another way, if your product or service is advertised in email being sent out by someone else, be sure that they include information about themselves in the email, or you may find yourself legally liable for helping users opt out of the mailings.  This is known as the “designated sender rule”.

 2.  Email Sent by Affiliates

 Vendors are legally liable under the Federal CAN-SPAM law if their affiliates use spam to advertise the vendor’s product or to otherwise generate sales for the vendor.  This means that if your affiliate sends email featuring your product or service, and that email is deemed to be spam, then you may be legally as guilty of spamming as your affiliate, especially if you knew or should have known that the affiliate was using spam to advertise your product.

 3.  Testimonials, Reviews, and Endorsements in Marketing on the Internet

 The use of testimonials on the Internet is now being more strictly regulated by the Federal Trade Commission, and testimonials that suggest outstanding results that are not actual typical results must disclose that the results being featured in the testimonial are not typical, and must indicate what typical results can be expected.

 Additionally, if you favorably review or endorse a product or service, and you have been in any way compensated or provided with a benefit in exchange for the review or endorsement (or even if you just have a relationship with the provider of that product or service) you must disclose that information.  

For example, if Acme provided you for free with that nifty widget that you just reviewed, you must disclose in your review your relationship with Acme, and that Acme provided the widget at no charge.

 While these three rules may seem onerous or burdensome, they are not really that difficult to follow once you understand them, and following them not only keeps you within the law, but distinguishes and identifies your business as being above-board and ethical.

 
Anne P. Mitchell is an Internet attorney and law professor, and runs the Institute for Social Internet Public Policy (ISIPP), best known for their SuretyMail Email Accreditation service.

Download the entire FeedFront issue 9 here – http://www.scribd.com/doc/24376105/FeedFront-Magazine-Issue-9
FeedFront issue 9 articles can be found here as well: http://feedfront.com/archives/article002334

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