Changes in the CAN-SPAM Act

I’ve spoken in the past about the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 and how it affects email marketers. Congress passed the CAN-SPAM Act (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) to establish guidelines for those businesses that send out commercial emails, and to cut down the on volume of spam through the U.S. As ethical email marketers, we follow very strict guidelines for our messages to stay in compliance with anti-spam laws and policies. At iContact, we take our permission-based philosophies a step further by having a zero-tolerance spam policy.

The Federal Trade Commission recently approved a new rule in CAN-SPAM which goes into effect on July 7, 2008. Here are the new rules for you to see if they affect you and your company’s email marketing campaigns:

  • The new rule provisions address four topics: (1) an e-mail recipient cannot be required to pay a fee, provide information other than his or her e-mail address and opt-out preferences, or take any steps other than sending a reply e-mail message or visiting a single Internet Web page to opt out of receiving future e-mail from a sender;

This rule means that if you are subscribed to an email list without your permission, you won’t have to provide any other information to unsubscribe; you can just simply click an opt-out button.

  • (2) the definition of “sender” was modified to make it easier to determine which of multiple parties advertising in a single e-mail message is responsible for complying with the Act’s opt-out requirements;

This rule deals with emails that are sent out from multiple parties or advertisers and will determine who is responsible for complying with CAN-SPAM.

  • (3) a “sender” of commercial e-mail can include an accurately-registered post office box or private mailbox established under United States Postal Service regulations to satisfy the Act’s requirement that a commercial e-mail display a “valid physical postal address”; and

There are several businesses that simply use a registered P.O. Box as their physical address, and this is now legal to use at the bottom of their email messages under the new legislation.

  • (4) a definition of the term “person” was added to clarify that CAN-SPAM’s obligations are not limited to natural persons.

This means that even automatically generated email messages that come from Web-based sources are now required to fully comply with CAN-SPAM.

To read the FTC’s text of the rule changes, click here.

Thanks for reading, enjoy your weekend and I’ll be back next week to share more guidance about email marketing techniques.


Ryan Allis

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