Provide spam opt-in wording on site
Thread poster: Samuel Murray

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 16:46
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
May 24, 2009

G'day everyone

I'm sure many freelancers use ProZ.com's directory to find potential clients, and send them e-mails. This is legal in some countries but illegal in others. In particular, it is illegal in most European countries to send marketing messages via e-mail without explicit permission from the recipient. This is called "opt-in". In other countries, like the USA, the opt-out principle is maintained (so anyone may send marketing messages to anyone without their permission as long as they are able to "unsubscribe").

IANAL, but I doubt if it will stand up if a translator argues that his e-mail to an agency is not unsolicited by implication of the fact that the agency having its e-mail address listed on its profile page. In other words, although the fact that I put my mail address on my profile page implies that I invite e-mails from unknown people, my permission is merely implied, and not explicit... which is the specific requirement of European anti-spam laws.

So, in order to facilitate e-mail communication between ProZ.com users, and users and members of the public (i.e. potential clients), I suggest that specific wording be added to the web site where people's e-mail addresses are listed, to explicitly grant permission for the receipt of commercial and/or marketing mail messages.

I realise this may sound silly -- after all, why list your mail address on your profile page if you don't want to receive mails. But the reality is that spam laws are getting more draconian, and many countries now require explicit (not merely implied) permission from the recipient.

This can be implemented in several ways, I suppose, but here are some options:

* Next to the "Contact:" item at the top of users' profile pages, where there are icons for mail, messages, IMs etc, have an icon of a question mark that links to a statement saying that by providing the contact means the profile page owner grants permission to the visitor to contact him by those means with any message relating to anything on his profile page, including enquiries about work or offers of service.

* At the bottom of the page with the "Contact" tab of users' profile pages, put a similar message.

* Ensure that when new users join ProZ.com that they are aware that listing their contact details on ProZ.com constitutes their explicit permission to be contacted by potential clients, colleagues and service profiders with messages directly related to anything on their profile pages.

* Optionally have a questionmark icon also next to the download link of résumés, with popup text stating that if the résumé contains contact details, the owner of the résumé grants permission to be contacted by that contact details, for commercial and marketing messages.

Your thoughts?


 

Piotr Bienkowski  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 16:46
Member (2005)
English to Polish
+ ...
I think your suggestion is reasonable May 24, 2009

but on the other hand, I sent unsolicited e-mails about my translation services to several dozen translation agencies in the EU in March this year (I found them through the Blue Board), and so far, none of them took me to court.icon_smile.gif

Regards,

Piotr


 

xanthippe  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:46
Member (2008)
Italian to French
+ ...
Good suggestion May 24, 2009

I'm a professional translator and I've also a small agency.

Everyday I receive some non-sollicited e-mails and I do not answer because I do not have so much time to spend answering "sorry, we have not jobs for you" or "Please, remember that what you are doing is ...spamming ...." and so on......

So, I really dislike those mails, but I don't answer.

It will be great having what Samuel suggests.

bye for now.....


 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:46
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Email addresses are not listed on the profiles, are they? May 25, 2009

Samuel Murray wrote:

IANAL, but I doubt if it will stand up if a translator argues that his e-mail to an agency is not unsolicited by implication of the fact that the agency having its e-mail address listed on its profile page. In other words, although the fact that I put my mail address on my profile page implies that I invite e-mails from unknown people, my permission is merely implied, and not explicit... which is the specific requirement of European anti-spam laws.


Samuel,
When you enter your email address on your profile into the Contact section, that will not be shown to anybody. When someone uses the little envelope to send you an email through your profile, they will not get a hold of your address, unless you reply to them. The only way to make your email public is to put it into one of the free-text fields, such as the "About me" section, or include it in your downloadable Resume/CV.
This is what the FAQ says:
http://www.proz.com/faq/profiles.html#contact_information
5.2 - Can I make my email address visible in the "Contact" section of my profile?

No. This is designed as a means of security, to protect your address from spammers, and is why the profile email sending function (the little envelope at the top of your profile) is used. If you choose to publicly post your email address, you may do so for example in the "About me" section or CV of your profile; please be aware of the risks of doing so, however.


I am not a lawyer either, but to me, when someone includes their email address in a free-text field or on their resume, their purpose is to provide means for people to contact them. What other purpose is there for providing your email?
By the way, you can also control the profile email, you can select who can send you email (anybody, only registered users, only members, nobody). You can also have staff vet all messages that come through your profile (this service is for members only).
All of this can be controlled thorugh your Profile->Settings->Email preferences.

As to opt-in vs. opt-out - again, I am not a lawyer, this is just my common-sense thought - since ProZ.com is incorporated in the US, the laws of the US apply, which is opt-out.
Katalin


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 16:46
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Answers to Katalin May 25, 2009

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:
When you enter your email address on your profile into the Contact section, that will not be shown to anybody. When someone uses the little envelope to send you an email through your profile, they will not get a hold of your address, unless you reply to them.


True, but I think these are two separate issues. The one issue is whether visitors know what your e-mail address is. The other issue is whether you have opted in to receive e-mails from visitors. ProZ.com hides members' e-mail addresses from visitors, so privacy is protected. But my post was not about protecting members -- my post was about ensuring that visitors do not have to break the law to make the profile page useful to the member whose profile page it is.

Several European countries' anti-spam laws apply not only to e-mails but also to faxes and SMSes... and although ProZ.com hides your e-mail address, it doesn't hide your fax number or your mobile number. Again, the *normal assumption* (at least in the US and in certain countries) is that if you list your business fax and mobile number in a public directory, then it is implicit permission to use them. But some European laws requires explicit permission (at least for e-mails, faxes and SMSes).

(I'm under the impression that unsolicited faxes are also illegal in the US, thanks to a law that predates the internet. I'm not sure what the law in the US says about unsolicited SMSes.)

For example, in the Netherlands, you're not even allowed to send an unsolicited e-mail to a business (before mid 2009 it was allowed to send unsolicited to a business but not to a natural person). So if an advert doesn't say "e-mail us", then the e-mail address is assumed to have been given for information purposes only. Of course, these are new laws so they still need to be tested and interpreted, but IANAL.

(I have read somewhere that this was once a cultural difference between the US and the UK, at the time when businesses started getting telephones, and the numbers were listed in public directories. Apparently, in the US, it was taken for granted that if a business's number is listed, that it is an invitation to anyone and everyone to phone them, whereas it took a number of years for businesses in the UK to get used to the idea that it is not impolite for someone to phone a business when the person does not have a prior business relationship with that business.)

I am not a lawyer either, but to me, when someone includes their email address in a free-text field or on their resume, their purpose is to provide means for people to contact them.


By that reasoning, if you provide your physical address to anyone, it is an invitation to them to visit youicon_smile.gif

But no, I'm not expert at this. And I agree that we can safely assume that if contact details are listed on ProZ.com, then those members have the expectation that they will be contacted at those details. But the laws are getting stricter (silly strict, in my opinion) and what is assumed by you and I may not be what is assumed by someone who has decided to be unreasonable and who has the law on his side.

There is another issue and that is the role of ProZ.com as a redirector of messages. If you send a mail via ProZ.com's message system, who is sending the mail? You or ProZ.com? If you receive a mail via ProZ.com -- are you receiving a mail from ProZ.com or are you receiving a mail from the person who uses ProZ.com to send you a mail? IANAL, but there is provision in many anti-spam laws to treat intermediary services as mere conduits or couriers, so that even if a person sends a message to you via ProZ.com, it is still that person who needs your permission. He can't say "...but ProZ.com has permission to contact you, and I'm contacting you via ProZ.com, and so in other words, there is permission".

By the way, you can also control the profile email, you can select who can send you email (anybody, only registered users, only members, nobody). You can also have staff vet all messages that come through your profile (this service is for members only).


True, but filtering certain types of messages in or out is not the same as giving permission to receive such messages. This is just a mechanism to indicate unwanted mail. It is not a mechanism to make mail wanted. For example, if you filter out non-registered users, and a registered user sends you an unwanted message, are you going to say "well, since I filtered him in, his mail isn't really unwanted"?

As to opt-in vs. opt-out - again, I am not a lawyer, this is just my common-sense thought - since ProZ.com is incorporated in the US, the laws of the US apply, which is opt-out.


By that reasoning, one can legally do things that would normally be illegal in your country, as long as your resources are located in another country. I don't think that argument will flyicon_smile.gif

If you're a European visitor, then the European laws would apply to your actions regardless of whether the web site that you're using in aid of your actions is located in Europe or elsewhere.

[Edited at 2009-05-25 11:12 GMT]


 


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