Yesmail’s settlement with the Federal Trade Commission last week sent tremors throughout the industry as other e-mailers scrambled to figure out how the company became ensnared in the FTC’s spam-fighting apparatus and how they could avoid a similar scenario.
Yesmail agreed to pay $50,717 to settle charges that its recently acquired @Once unit violated the Can-Spam Act.
The alleged violations happened in 2004. Yesmail acquired @Once in 2005.
Though the size of the settlement was relatively small, the FTC’s press release and complaint were worded such that it was difficult to tell what happened and whether or not others are in danger of coming into the FTC’s crosshairs under similar circumstances.
According to the FTC, @Once’s spam-filtering software blocked some “reply to” unsubscribe requests from recipients as spam, resulting in @Once failing to honor those opt-out requests and sending thousands of e-mails to recipients more than 10 days after the requests, a violation of the Can-Spam Act.
The announcement raised eyebrows in the industry because it looked as if @Once was the victim of a technical glitch. The Can-Spam Act contains a provision protecting senders whose opt-out mechanism “is unexpectedly and temporarily unable to receive messages or process requests due to a technical problem beyond the control of the sender if the problem is corrected within a reasonable period of time.”