Checking Up on CAN-SPAM

by Annie H. Lee on Sep 6, 2017 12:40:40 PM Government Relations


Many may not remember this, but there was a time when spam emails ruled the (inbox) world. The content of such emails ranged from irrelevant to inappropriate, subject headings were often misleading, and trying to figure out how to unsubscribe would be like trying to figure out how to avoid Game of Thrones spoilers.

Then came the CAN-SPAM Act. In 2003 President George W. Bush signed into law the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM for short), the country’s first national rules for sending commercial email. It requires, among other things, that subject lines accurately reflect the content of the message, that the message is identified as an ad, and that an opt-out mechanism is provided so that recipients can opt-out of receiving future emails from the sender. The CAN-SPAM requirements are enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), state attorneys general and Internet access service providers, and there is no private right of action for citizens to sue under the Act.     

Deciding that it’s time for a performance review, this past June the FTC issued a request for public comments on CAN-SPAM. In addition to asking general questions such as whether the Act should be modified in any way, the FTC also raised a few specific issues for comment, including whether the 10-business day period to process opt-out requests should be reduced. 

ERA believes that the answer is “no” to both, and that the current version of CAN-SPAM should be maintained as-is. To find out why, read the comments that ERA and its team submitted to the FTC here.

Annie H. Lee is an associate in Venable LLP’s Regulatory Practice Group, where she focuses her practice on advertising and marketing law. She advises clients on developments in consumer protection laws and guidelines, and performs compliance reviews for companies involved in social media marketing, negative option marketing, telemarketing, direct mail solicitations, email marketing, and other marketing strategies.

Annie H. Lee's blog
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