Email Marketing and the CAN-SPAM Act

Email marketing is a powerful tool for businesses can use to reach customers. Recently abuses of email marketing have become a concern for many. The CAN-SPAM Act was enacted to address email marketing abuses to help ensure it remains a useful tool in the future.   In this post I’ll review some of the key points of the CAN-SPAM Act, why it’s important to you, and how it protects consumers.

The CAN-SPAM Act Basics

The CAN-SPAM Act, which stands for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003,  is a set of regulations designed to prevent abusive email practices.  All businesses and individuals engaged in email marketing must follow these regulations.

Key requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act:

  • Accurate Identity Information: Senders must not use false or misleading identity information. This means that the “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and other routing information must accurately represent the sender.
  • Truthful Subject Lines: Subject lines must accurately reflect the content of the email. Deceptive subject lines can mislead recipients and lead to spam complaints.
  • Advertisement Identification: Senders must clearly and conspicuously identify their messages as advertisements and promotional content.
  • Include the Sender’s Location:  This address can be the sender’s street address, a post office box registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox registered with a commercial mail-receiving agency.
  • Opt-Out Mechanism:  Promotional emails must include a clear and easily understandable way for recipients to opt out of receiving future emails from the sender.
  • Honor Opt-Out Requests: Senders must honor opt-out requests quickly. Opt-out requests should be honored 30 days or sooner after the email is sent, and within 10 business days of the recipient’s request.
  • Responsibility for Third Parties: You are legally responsible for the email messages sent on your behalf, even if you hire a third party to do it. Both the company promoting a product in the message and the company sending the message will be held accountable.

Why the CAN-SPAM Act Exists 

The CAN-SPAM Act was created to address the growing problem of spam. It tries to protect consumers by ensuring that email marketers follow ethical practices

Here’s how the Act protects consumers:

  • Reduces Deception: By requiring accurate identification and truthful subject lines, the Act helps provide a level of trust in the purpose and content of the email.
  • Gives Control to Recipients: By ensuring recipients can easily opt out of receiving future emails, they have more control over the types of emails that come into their inbox.
  • Punishes Violators: Violations can result in hefty fines and penalties, discouraging spammy practices and protecting consumers.

MacKenzie Arts and Design supports the the CAN-SPAM Act regulations because we believe it is ethical and responsible. These regulations align with our commitment to maintaining transparency, trust, and respect in our business relationships.

Adhering to the CAN-SPAM Act’s guidelines, will ensure that our email marketing campaigns provide accurate information, clearly identify promotional content, and grant recipients the freedom to control their email preferences.

We would like to thank SiteGround for providing the foundational information on this important topic.

Image credit © 123rfexclusive, 123RF Free Images Original image was modified.

The following is an excerpt from the Federal Government’s CAN-Spam Compliance Guide

Q. What are the penalties for violating the CAN-SPAM Act?

A. Each separate email in violation of the law is subject to penalties of up to $50,120, and more than one person may be held responsible for violations. For example, both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that originated the message may be legally responsible. Email that makes misleading claims about products or services also may be subject to laws outlawing deceptive advertising, like Section 5 of the FTC Act. The CAN-SPAM Act has certain aggravated violations that may give rise to additional fines. The law provides for criminal penalties – including imprisonment – for:

  • accessing someone else’s computer to send spam without permission,
    using false information to register for multiple email accounts or domain names,
  • relaying or retransmitting multiple spam messages through a computer to mislead others about the origin of the message,
  • harvesting email addresses or generating them through a dictionary attack (the practice of sending email to addresses made up of random letters and numbers in the hope of reaching valid ones), and
  • taking advantage of open relays or open proxies without permission.

In addition to civil penalties, you may be required to pay redress to consumers under Section 19 of the FTC Act. Redress could include not only how much consumers paid, but also the value of their lost time.

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