23 direct marketing trade associations from five continents established an International Federation of Direct Marketing Associations. Founded in 1989, the IFDMA was established to develop firm lines of communications between direct marketers around the world, and is dedicated to improving the practice and communicating the value of direct marketing; and to promoting the highest standards for ethical conduct and effective self-regulation of the direct marketing community.
The purposes are generally:
Direct Marketing Associations have attracted controversy, as people believe they aim to promote spam and to defend junk mail and unsolicited telemarketing, which many consumers find irritating and intrusive. They have been accused, by The Spamhaus Project and Electronic Frontier Foundation respectively, of promoting spam and working against open standards (i.e., Do Not Track) that seek to protect consumer privacy from tracking by online marketers. They have also been accused of using a "limited", unrealistic definition of spam.
The United States National Do Not Call Registry, went into effect in 2003. Under the law, it is illegal for telemarketers to call anyone who has registered themselves on the list. After the list had operated for one year, over 62 million people had signed up. The telemarketing industry opposed the creation of the list, but most telemarketers have complied with the law and refrained from calling people who are on the list.