2018 was a year of controversy around privacy laws. We’ll not mention any names Facebook, but what we will say is that brands have to be even more transparent about how you intend to use consumer data and how you acquire permissions from customers.

We expect you know all about GDPR by now, but if not, make sure you do. Although the law was passed by European courts, they could still effect US businesses that potentially have contact with EU-protected customers.

The California Consumer Privacy Act 2018, set to become effective in 2020, also grants consumers the right to stop businesses selling their data to third parties.

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) are still panicking about the grey areas around data privacy. ANA recently called for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to publish a comprehensive law to clarify how US businesses collect and apply consumer data.

Brands that engage in SMS marketing collect personal data, and thus are subject to the new data protection laws in the US.

SMS Marketing Best Practices

Consumers have the right not to receive correspondence from companies they do not associate themselves with. They also have the right to be assured their personal data will remain confidential.

    . Consent must be given in writing. 
  • When you request consent your brand name must be explicitly mentioned so there is no confusion on the part of the consumer to whom they are giving consent to.
  • Opt-In forms must not be bundled with other channels; i.e email and telephone. It must be clear to customers they are signing a form giving consent to receive messages via SMS.
  • Consumers must be given the opportunity to be removed from your SMS messaging list. 
  • Update your privacy policy to include a clause dedicated to SMS marketing.

Consumer Privacy Laws in the US

In the US, the two principle laws for regulating the SMS marketing landscape are the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), and the CAN-SPAM Act.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act prevents businesses from contacting consumers without prior written consent. This is the case even if you already have an established business relationship.

The primary concern of this law is to protect consumers from receiving unwanted text messages. The regulations also stipulate that text messages can only be sent during the hours of 8am and 9pm.

Companies that do not comply with the legislation could face financial penalties ranging from between $500 and $1500 per text message.

The CAN-SPAM Act reinforce the provisions laid down by the TCPA by preventing firms from sending commercial emails to mobile phones without prior consent.

It is worth noting that the CAN-SPAM Act does not include non-commercial messages where a relationship already exists between a business and a buyer. For example, you can send confirmation messages, reminders and updates.

The financial penalties awarded to companies that fail to comply with US SMS advertising regulations can be crippling. So make sure you know what the rules are and stick to them.

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