What you should know about email messaging

The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003: This is the Federal law enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. This law became effective on January 1, 2004. The government revised the law in 2008 to add additional items that were not covered in the original. Law applies to any entity that sent commercial messages. All religious, national security and political messages are exempt from the law. Law set rules for commercial email, set requirements for commercial messages, establish recipient right to stop emails and establish penalties. Here is what the law requires:

  • Header information on your message should be accurate. Use correct “TO”, “FROM” and “SUBJECT” information.
  • Clearly state that the message is an advertisement.
  • Give your location.
  • Show how to opt out and honor all requests for opts out.
  • Monitor your site traffic.

Each separate violation of the law is subject to penalties. A penalty of up to $16,000 can be imposed and more than one person including the company can be held liable for the violation.

The Federal Trade Commission has issued separate rules based on the act. An example is any sexually oriented messages do require a warning, “SEXUALLY-EXPLICIT”, at the beginning of such material.