CAN - SPAM Act - Explained
What is the CAN-SPAM Act?
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What is the CAN-SPAM Act?
Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act 2003 or commonly known as the CAN-SPAM Act sets forth the rules for the sending commercial e-mails. Violation of the provisions of these rules is punishable under the federal law. The CAN-SPAM Act was enacted by the Congress in 2003 and was signed by President George W. Bush on December 16, 2003. The law came into effect on January 1, 2004. The law makes the Federal Trade Commission responsible for enforcing its provisions. Among other provisions, the Act makes it mandatory to include identifying information like a return address in the commercial e-mails, it prohibits the sender from including any misleading or deceptive statements or mail header and it gives recipients the rights to unsubscribe from a mailing list and after unsubscribing they must not receive any more emails from the sender.
How Does the CAN-SPAM Act Work?
Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act 2003 was enacted as a response to the increasing rate of complaints regarding the spam emails. Senator Conrad Burns and Senator Ron Wyden sponsored the bill in Congress. According to the law, any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service, comes under the purview of the CAN-SPAM Act. This includes the electronic mails promoting content on commercial websites. The aim of enacting the CAN-SPAM Act was to regulate the commercial electronic mail nationally and protect the interest of recipients against misleading information and deceptive marketing methods. The act doesnt ban the spam emailing altogether, but it formulates a few rules and regulation about how to send such emails. The Act prohibits the senders of such emails from sending any information which is "materially false or misleading". The law further requires them to follow certain rules regarding the format, content, and labeling of such emails. The provisions of the law also empower the recipients to decline to receive such emails. The main requirements under the CAN-SPAM Act are as follows-
- There should not be any false or misleading header information in the email. The "From", "To" and "Reply To" must be clear and it must have legitimate routing information. The domain name and email address of the sender must be mentioned accurately so that the recipient can identify the person or business who initiated the message.
- The Subject line of the message must not be misleading. It should clearly communicate the content of the message. The message must contain at least one line.
- The mail must clearly and conspicuously disclose that it contains advertisement. There are a number of methods of how to do this, but it is mandatory to identify the message as an ad.
- The mail must include a valid physical postal address where the sender can be reached. It may be the current street address of the sender, a registered post office box with U.S Postal Service or a private mailbox registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under the regulations of Postal Service.
- The message must clearly mention how the recipient can opt out of getting any email from that sender in the future. It must be written in such a way that it is easy and understandable for an ordinary person. The recipient must be able to communicate their choice easily via a return mail or any other simple internet-based service.
- A recipient must be allowed to utilize the unsubscribing mechanism at least for 30 days after receiving the mail. The sender must comply with the unsubscribe request within 10 business days of receiving it. The sender must not charge any fee from the recipient against the request. They also must not ask for any personal identifying information about the recipient other than their email addresses. The mechanism of unsubscribing must be easy and simple. Sending a reply email or visiting a single page on a website should solve the issue. After receiving an opt-out request from the recipients their email addresses cannot be sold or transferred to a third-party for any purposes other than complying with the request. The sender can only hand it over to a company who they have hired to get help in complying with the CAN-SPAM Act.
- If a business hires another company for handling email marketing, both companies are responsible for complying with the provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act. If the law is violated while sending the emails, both of them might have to face legal action.
For each separate email that fails to comply with the provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act, the sender may have to pay a penalty up to $41, 484. The Act clearly mentions all its requirements and certain misinterpretations and fraudulent practices may be viewed as criminal offenses. Those are as follows- Use of hijacked computer for sending spam emails. Sending spam emails using multiple email accounts which are obtained by falsifying account registration information. Sending multiple spam emails using an Internet Protocol address that is not owned by the sender but he or she falsely claims so. The CAN-SPAM Act has been criticized on several occasions for failing to prohibit many types of spam emails. The critics also argue the CAN_SPAM Act obstructs the implementation of some state laws that would otherwise ensure practical means of redressal for the victims. It also prohibits the states to enact a stronger act for anti-spam protection. The Act was also criticized because it doesn't require a company to take prior permission for sending the marketing messages.
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