By

Washington

A “do not e-mail” registry is unlikely to be effective but could be cumbersome and costly for businesses, the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors says.

In comments filed with the Federal Trade Commission, NAIFA, based in Falls Church, Va., also says that insurance agents must be free to contact their clients by e-mail.

The issue involves the regulations that will be issued in conjunction with the CAN-SPAM Act, which was enacted last year to deal with the growing problem of unsolicited and unwanted commercial e-mails.

The FTC is considering the establishment of a “do not e-mail” registry similar to the “do not call” registry that applies to telemarketers.

But Heather Eilers-Bowser, NAIFAs director of federal relations, says that a registry probably will not stem the tide of spam.

“The design of the registry is costly and cumbersome for businesses, particularly because e-mail addresses, unlike telephone numbers, cannot be segregated geographically,” she says in her comments to the FTC.

Indeed, Eilers-Bowser says, some spammers may well ignore the registry or even use it as another ready source of e-mail addresses to bombard.

In addition to the registry, the FTC is considering how to define the phrase “transactional or relationship messages” under the CAN-SPAM Act.

These types of e-mail messages are permitted under the Act. Eilers-Bowser says that NAIFA wants to be sure that insurance agents can continue to use e-mail to contact their clients and that referral business is not limited by regulations on e-mail forwarding.

“As any of our members will attest, referrals are a key component of the insurance business,” she says. “If an individual feels they have been well served by an insurance agent and that someone they know would benefit from hearing from that agent, then the FTC should not limit those interactions,” Eilers-Bowser says.

Referrals, she adds, are a valuable and relatively unobtrusive from of commercial activity. Consumers and agents, she says, will benefit from a continuation of “forward-to-a-friend” messages and referrals followed by an agents direct contact.

“We urge the FTC to allow these practices to continue unabated,” she says.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, April 23, 2004. Copyright 2004 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.