Don’t you love SPAM?

Think of the millions of dollars companies spend on email marketing to US consumers. How do consumers in other countries cope?

The short answer is that, in many cases, they don’t need to cope. SPAM like the US has doesn’t exist in other industrialized countries. Instead there are privacy laws that protect consumers from that sort of harassment. In the example of UK,

Under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003, direct marketing may be sent by e-mail to individuals (that is, to a non-business e-mail address) only if a) the individual has consented, or b) the marketing is being sent to someone whose details have been obtained in the course of a sale, the marketing is for the same business’s similar products and services, and the individual is given a simple means of refusing use of their details for marketing purposes.

When relying on consent, the high standard under GDPR applies: consent must be freely given, specific and informed, and involve a positive indication signifying agreement.(1)

Imagine how much fewer emails you would have if that standard were enforced in the US?

Of course, there’s a simple reason why the US doesn’t have these laws: US politicians abuse emails in their own campaigns. As with term limits, US politicians like to pass rules for other to follow, but don’t want to restrict themselves.


  1. Jessica Brickley, “UK: Consent for Direct Marketing Must Be Specific,”


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