Arguing that adherence to the Can-Spam Act of 2003 creates a substantial administrative burden for non-profit associations that send commercial e-mails to their members, the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, Inc. (IIABA, Alexandria, Va.), is seeking an exemption for non-profit trade associations and their for-profit subsidiaries, relates Patrick O'Brien, Washington representative and grassroots coordinator, IIABA.
Currently, under the Act, trade associations sending commercial e-mails-messages with the primary purpose of advertising-must clearly identify that the message is an advertisement, give recipients the option of opting out of future commercial e-mails, and provide a physical mailing address.
"What we are asking for is no different from what is granted to non-profits in the Do-Not-Call regulations," says O'Brien. "They are free to telemarket the general public with no restrictions whatsoever, provided they are doing so to contribute to their non-profit status. Things that we send by e-mail are the same as things we send by regular mail. There is no difference except that e-mail is faster and cheaper." The IIABA is also seeking an exemption for wholly owned for-profit subsidiaries because, according to O'Brien, they contribute to the furtherance of the associations' non-profit status.
The IIABA first began its exemption lobbying efforts in July 2003. In the future it plans to file comments with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is charged with issuing regulations by December 2004 that more clearly explain which electronic messages will be covered under the Act.