The Spam Spat

Friel, Alan L.
May 2005
Marketing Management;May/Jun2005, Vol. 14 Issue 3, p48
This article discusses the impact of the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (CAN-SPAM), which became effective on January 1, 2004, on marketers in the U.S. CAN-SPAM represents a congressional response to unsolicited commercial e-mail. The new law imposes guidelines for regulating certain types of Internet spamming, but does not attempt to outlaw unsolicited e-mailing altogether. Businesses using e-mail for commercial purposes cannot afford to ignore the CAN-SPAM Act. Although only the most egregious violations will be prosecuted initially, the public outcry against spam can only widen the enforcement net. Every company that directly or indirectly uses commercial e-mail must bring its activities into compliance with the new law to avoid lawsuits or enforcement actions. The act covers any electronic mail the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service, and which is a commercial e-mail message or a transactional or relationship message. The activities regulated under the CAN-SPAM Act fall into seven categories: Opt-out requirements; Labeling requirements; Sexually oriented material; Mobile messages; Prohibition of deceptive e-mails; Address harvesting; Affiliate liability. The punishments for violation of the CAN-SPAM Act can be stiff, including per violation fines up to $6 million and prison terms up to five years.


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