What is the CAN-SPAM Act?

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The CAN-SPAM Act, which took effect in January 2004 in the United States, is a law that sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, and gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them. It also covers commercial email messages, which the law defines as “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service.”

CAN-SPAM’s main requirements include:

  • Don’t use false or misleading header information. Your “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information – including the originating domain name and email address – must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.
  • Don’t use deceptive subject lines. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
  • Identify the message as an ad. You must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.
  • Tell recipients where you’re located. Your message must include your valid physical postal address.
  • Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you. Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from you in the future.
  • Honor opt-out requests promptly. Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days. You can’t charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request 

For more information on the CAN-SPAM ACT see the full text of the law here. Also, you’ll find many questions answered about the law in this compliance guide from the FTC.

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