No spam rules are very stringent and are of two types. Many countries actually have laws against spamming, or sending out of unsolicited emails. These laws can be very strict and have severe penalties and need to be checked in each country where you will do business on an individual basis.
The EU, or European Union has implemented Article 13 of their Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications which says people must give prior consent, or opt in. The media calls this in Europe of the “Opt In Directive”. It does however have several exemptions allowed. In the United Kingdom the Data Management Association has adopted strict rules requiring opt in. The US Congress is considering legislation along those lines.
In Canada an Ontario Superior Court of Justice made history in the battle against spam through claiming that it was a breach of netiquette, or net etiquette. This case occurred when a serial spammer sued a Toronto company for breach of contract. The company, an ISP, terminated the plaintiff account because the spammer sent out 200,000 junk emails per day. The judge ruled in favor of the ISP and against the spammer.
However, most no spam rules concerning email marketing are rules of etiquette equivalent to the morays of society discussed in sociology classes. Sending unsolicited email is considered a taboo in the Internet community. It is not just rude and socially unacceptable behavior, but it is considered a violation of the strict moral codes that govern email marketing.
Legitimate email marketers who earn their livelihood from email marketing will never ever send out spam. Sending out spam is the mark of an amateur, and a charlatan. Sending out spam will get a person blackballed in the email marketing community. People will refuse to do business with a company that sends out spam. Their Internet Service Providers will often drop them from the servers and refuse to allow their email to pass. They may even take down their websites.
As far as handling spam is concerned, there are several things to keep in mind. First, all unsolicited junk mail or bulk mail should be considered spam. Also, if it makes an offer that seems too good to be true, then it is spam. Remember to be suspicious of all spam and never give them personal or financial information.
Never reply to spammers because that tells them that you exist and you will continue to receive spam from them. Also never “opt out” of spammers. Reputable companies allow you to opt out of mailing lists, but spammers are not reputable people or they would not be spamming. No contact with them of any kind is the safest bet.
Keep in mind that spamming is a violation of all of the rules followed by the good people who engage in legitimate email marketing, and they should never be compared to these people.