CAN-SPAM Act – If you send email newsletters or ads

The CAN-SPAM Act establishes the United States’ first national standards for the sending of commercial e-mail and requires the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce its provisions. The acronym CAN-SPAM derives from the bill’s full name: Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act. The bill permits e-mail marketers to send unsolicited commercial e-mail as long as it adheres to 3 basic types of compliance:

Unsubscribe compliance

A visible and operable unsubscribe mechanism is present in all emails.
Consumer opt-out requests are honored within 10 days.
Opt-out lists also known as suppression lists are only used for compliance purposes.

Content compliance

  • Accurate from lines (including “friendly froms”)
  • Relevant subject lines (relative to offer in body content and not deceptive)
  • A legitimate physical address of the publisher and/or advertiser is present.
  • A label is present if the content is adult.

Sending behavior compliance

  • A message cannot be sent through an open relay
  • A message cannot be sent to a harvested email address
  • A message cannot contain a false header
    • The content is exempt if it consists of:
      • religious messages;
      • political messages;
      • content that broadly complies with the marketing mechanisms specified in the law; or
      • national security messages.

There are no restrictions against a company emailing its existing customers or anyone who has inquired about its products or services, regardless of whether or not these individuals have given permission, as these messages are classified as “relationship” messages under CAN-SPAM

If a user opts out, a sender has ten days to cease sending and can only use that email address for compliance purposes. The legislation also prohibits the sale or other transfer of an e-mail address after an opt-out request. The law also requires that the unsubscribe mechanism must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days.

In addition to complying with these rules, you may run into problems sending large amounts of email from your computer or server directly. Many internet providers will block your email if it matches patterns associated with spamming, including simply sending a lot of mail in a short time. One way to avoid this problem is to work with an email newsletter vendor such as Constant Contact, MailChimp ,or Icontact.