The CAN-SPAM Act is a federal law that regulates spam e-mail. Generally speaking, the CAN-SPAM Act:

  • Prohibits the use of false or misleading header information, subject lines and originating addresses
  • Prohibits the "hijacking" of another e-mail server to send spam
  • Prohibits registering for e-mail addresses under false identities and then sending e-mail from those e-mail addresses
  • Requires e-mail advertisers to include their postal mailing address in the e-mail
  • Prohibits advertisers from sending e-mails to email addresses that have been collected or "harvested" from websites, newsgroups, chatrooms, etc.
  • Requires spam e-mail to clearly identify the e-mail as an advertisement or solicitation unless the recipient has given prior affirmative consent to receive such advertisements
  • Requires e-mail advertisers to have a working "opt-out" system so that recipients can easily unsubscribe from the spammer’s mailing list
  • Requires sexually-oriented e-mails to have clear markings

Who Does the CAN-SPAM Act Apply to?

The CAN-SPAM Act applies to businesses who engage in interstate or foreign commerce and the commercial e-mail messages they send for the purpose of advertising and promoting commercial products or services.

Emails that relate to a commercial transaction that has already been agreed to by the recipient are not covered by the CAN-SPAM Act. For example, a confirmation of an order, information about the warranties of the product you purchased, and account statements are not regulated by CAN-SPAM.

A party who advertises on a spam e-mail or uses a spam e-mail service to promote commercial products and services is also subject to the CAN-SPAM Act.

Do I Need to Consult a Lawyer about My Cyberspace Issue?

The CAN-SPAM Act is quite complex, and violations of the CAN-SPAM Act can result in serious criminal charges and civil penalties. An experienced business lawyer can ensure that your business conforms to the requirements of CAN-SPAM and keep you apprised of any new laws regulating business on the Internet.