The Interactive Advertising Bureau, an industry trade group, sought to distance itself and members from spam on Tuesday by introducing new rules for the ethical handling of bulk e-mail lists. In its first initiative in six years, the New York-based trade group, whose members include America Online, Yahoo and MSN, set out rules for members that buy or sell access to e-mail addresses for marketing purposes. Called the Ethical eMail Guarantee, the rules state that a list provider must guarantee and be able to prove that all e-mail addresses are those from people who have agreed to be contacted by third parties. In addition, a list provider must honor unsubscribe requests from consumers, among other terms.
"There are some who look at e-mail marketing as the problem child of interactive advertising," Mike Mayor, CEO of e-mail company NetCreations and chairman of the IAB's eMail committee, said in a statement. "The first step is to separate the responsible marketers from" spammers.