FTC Keeps CAN-SPAM Unchanged

The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM) is here to stay, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently announced after completing its review.

What is CAN-SPAM?

Effective January 1, 2004, CAN-SPAM establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to make you stop emailing them, and outlines tough penalties for violations. For example, each email in violation of CAN-SPAM is subject to penalties of up to about $40,000. That can quickly add up!

On February 12, 2019, the FTC announced that it had completed its first review of CAN-SPAM. Based on its review, the FTC announced its decision to retain the rule in its present form.

Consumer’s Response

The FTC reviewed public comments and proposals in making its determination.

According to the FTC’s confirmation, nearly all 92 comments received were submitted by individual consumers and many suggested modifications to the Rule. Many comments were responses to specific issues raised by the FTC regarding whether they should:

  • modify the type of messages treated as “transactional or relationship messages,”
  • shorten the time period for processing opt-out requests, or
  • identify additional practices that constitute “aggravated violations.”

The FTC found that no proposed modification presented enough evidence that its added consumer benefit would outweigh its increased burden on businesses. However, the FTC stated that it would monitor matters and, if necessary, amend the Rule at some point in the future.

CAN-SPAM: Some Practical Guidance

Complying with CAN-SPAM is important. Here are a few important CAN-SPAM requirements.

  • State how to opt out of receiving future emails.
  • Don’t use false or misleading header information.
  • Subject lines must accurately reflect the email’s content.
  • Don’t use false or misleading header information.

For additional guidance on complying with CAN-SPAM, please click here.


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