WASHINGTON-CUNA has asked the Federal Trade Commission to create a carve-out in its proposed regulation under the CAN-SPAM Act (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003) for credit unions or trade associations. The law charges the FTC with issuing rules defining when an e-mail has a "commercial primary purpose." This type of e-mail must state it is a solicitation, offer an "opt-out," and provide a physical postal address of the sender. "The CAN SPAM Act requirements and the proposed rule regarding commercial e-mails are intended primarily to protect consumers from receiving unsolicited advertisements," CUNA Assistant General Counsel Jeffrey Bloch wrote in the letter. "Applying these requirements and the proposed rule to membership organizations, such as credit unions, will not address these concerns because credit unions would not want to adversely affect their membership relationships by sending unwanted advertisements." He continued, "As not-for-profit financial institutions, credit unions strive to provide services that best meet the interests of their members. This includes providing information on products and services that members may be interested in through a variety of means, such as e-mail communications. Members trust that their credit union will provide useful information and would not view this information as unwelcome. For this reason, we encourage the FTC to consider whether it is necessary to impose these CAN-SPAM Act requirements on membership organizations, such as credit unions." CUNA also said it should not apply to trade associations because many members sign up with these organizations precisely for the information that could be banned, such as upcoming conferences, books and other materials of interest to members. In the end, if the rule does include credit unions, it should not cover electronic newsletters, CUNA advised. Bloch wrote, "Credit union newsletters provide valuable educational information on a number of topics, such as financial security issues, fraud, identity theft, and the various loans and savings products that are available. This allows members to be well informed and helps them make prudent financial decisions. "Although these newsletters may contain "advertisements," we believe members welcome these newsletters and are actually expected as a form of communications between the credit union and their members." [email protected]

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