can spam actCan-spam act is one of those legal obligations that most business owners. Especially entrepreneurs and small ones who are not fully aware. And there might be a great chance that they are already breaking it. Read up on what you need to know about the Act. Stay away from the potential consequences.

What the Can-Spam Act is all about

The Can-Spam Act is also known as the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act. Signed into law in 2003, its effectiveness came in the 1st of January 2004. Small business owners must familiarize themselves with the Act because the consequences may be great and will surely cost you a lot of time and money.

The Can-spam Act takes into account the contents of the commercial e-mail ads that companies send. I’m sure we have all received junk e-mail from various unknown sources. What many do not know is that spamming is illegal. But to complain is time and effort consuming, so most of the time we just delete these spam messages.

On the opposite side of a coin, as the business owner, you are the one who sends out the e-mails to the customers. But this time, your identity is known and you are using the name of the business. Therefore, you are more prone to law suits. That means you should study well what you should and should not do, in accordance with the law. The specific of the Can-spam act is summarized here:

The Can-Spam Act’s Requirements for Commercial E-mailers

The Act sets out requirements for sending out commercial e-mails. It casts penalties for those companies who send out spam, for those who violate the law. It provides consumers the privilege to ask the spammers to refrain from e-mailing them. The Can-spam Act includes e-mails whose main objective is to advertise a certain product or service, even website contents. An exemption is a relationship or a transactional message. It includes an agreed upon transaction or update in an existing costumer relationship.

Facts for Business from the FTC

The agency authorized to enforce the Can-spam act is the Federal Trade Commission or FTC. The criminal sanctions on the other hand are handled by the Department of Justice. State and federal agencies also have the right to sue violators under their jurisdiction.

Here is a quick roundup of the provisions of the Can-spam Act:

  • Misleading or false header information is not allowed. The email’s To and From fields, and the originating domain name must be deemed true and accurate.
  • Deceptive subject lines are not allowed. The subject line must not be misleading versus the e-mail’s contents.
  • An opt-out option must be required. There should be a return e-mail address or an option where the recipient can choose to not receive future e-mails from you. When you receive the opt-out e-mail request, you have 10 days to stop e-mailing that address. You cannot assign another entity to e-mail that address for you. It is also not allowed to transfer or to send out your e-mail list to another entity.
  • The law requires that the commercial e-mail be identified as an ad. It must have the valid postal address of the sender. The message must clearly state that it is a solicitation or an advertisement and that there is an opt-out option for the receiver.

Penalties of the Can-Spam Act

Every violation of the provision is subject to fines that range until $11,000. Apart from the provisions above, additional fines will also be charged to those who have committed the following:

  • gathered e-mail addresses from websites that have posted a notice forbidding the transfer of e-mail addresses
  • random generation of e-mail addresses via dictionary attack, meaning the combination of letters, names, or numbers into various permutations
  • using scripts and other automations to garner multiple e-mails or user accounts
  • relaying e-mails via a computer or network without permission, by making use of open proxies or open relays without proper authorization

Fines can amount to up to $11,000 per violation of a provision of the Can-Spam Act, so make sure you are well aware of the rules and are not breaking any.

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