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What is CAN-SPAM?

CAN-SPAM is a US law that sets the rules for commercial email, gives recipients the right to have emails stopped from being sent to them, and spells out tough penalties for violations. It stands for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing.

Why is CAN-SPAM important?

The CAN-SPAM Act is important because it helps to protect individuals and businesses from unwanted and deceptive email practices. It helps to ensure that people are able to control the email they receive and that businesses are able to communicate with their customers and prospects in a transparent and honest manner. The Act also helps to promote trust and confidence in electronic commerce by establishing clear rules for businesses to follow.

Violating the CAN-SPAM Act can result in significant penalties, including fines of up to $42,530 for each violation. It is important for businesses to understand and comply with the Act in order to avoid these penalties and maintain the trust of their customers and prospects.

How can I use CAN-SPAM?

If you are a business sending commercial emails, there are several steps you can take to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act:

  1. Don't use false or misleading header information. The "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.
  2. Don't use deceptive subject lines. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
  3. Identify the message as an advertisement. The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.
  4. Tell recipients where you're located. Your message must include your valid physical postal address. This can be your current street address, a post office box you've registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox you've registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.
  5. 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. Craft the notice in a way that's easy for an ordinary person to recognize, read, and understand. Creative use of type size, color, and location can improve readability.
  6. 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. Once people have told you they don't want to receive more messages from you, you can't sell or transfer their email addresses, even in the form of a mailing list.

By following these guidelines, you can help to ensure that you are complying with the CAN-SPAM Act and respecting the wishes of your customers and prospects. It's important to note that the Act does not apply to transactional or relationship messages, such as order confirmations or account updates.

Brief history of CAN-SPAM

The CAN-SPAM Act (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act was passed by the United States Congress in 2003. It went into effect on January 1, 2004.

The CAN-SPAM Act was enacted in response to growing concerns about the volume of unwanted and deceptive email that was being sent to consumers. At the time, spam emails were becoming a major problem for internet users, as they were clogging up email inboxes and often contained fraudulent or deceptive content.

Since its passage, the CAN-SPAM Act has played a significant role in helping to reduce the volume of spam emails that are sent to consumers and in promoting trust and confidence in electronic commerce. It has also served as a model for similar laws in other countries.

Related Terms

Email newsletter

Email Unsubscribe

Email single opt in

Email Service Provider (ESP)