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What is the CAN-SPAM Act?

The Spam is Canned

The cleverly named CAN-SPAM Act (clever because it was literally formed to end email spam (can spam!) and because email spam is a term that originated with Spam, the popular canned meat) was created to limit the amount of junk mail that clutters email inbox’s around the country. In today’s digital age of the Internet, nearly everyone has to wade through mountains of spam mail each and every day.

Why the CAN-SPAM Act is Important

The CAN-SPAM Act is especially relevant to email marketing services and the businesses that rely on them for advertising. Marketing emails from companies, often in the form of flyers, newsletters, or updates, are all too often flagged as spam mail when the companies are not careful. Because the CAN-SPAM Act defines what Internet spam actually is, an understanding of it is of utmost importance to those wishing to utilize email marketing to its full extent.

What Prompted the CAN-SPAM Act?

The CAN-SPAM Act (short for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act) was passed by the United States Congress in 2003 and signed by President Bush. It was created because of the overwhelming flood of spam messages in people’s email inboxes. In fact, the average American’s inbox was filled with over fifty percent spam emails on a daily basis. To make matters worse, the 1990s were the pinnacle of both sexually explicit spam emails and spam emails that were purposefully deceptive and misleading.

Main Rules of the CAN-SPAM Act

The CAN-SPAM Act laid out several rules that email marketers and others must follow. Failure to follow these rules can result in a fine of up to $11,000. The most important rules are that the subject line must state exactly what the email is about and that the “To” and “From” areas of the email must be correct. Furthermore, customers must be able to easily unsubscribe or “opt-out” from future emails. Finally, the CAN-SPAM Act states that all commercial emails – those sent from companies or email marketing services working on their behalf – need to include a physical address.

Additional Rules of the CAN-SPAM Act

The CAN-SPAM Act includes multiple additional provisions related to the Internet and the sending of bulk emails. Failing to follow these additional rules will result in criminal charges. At the heart of these additional provisions is the rule that all email addresses need to be obtained in a legal manner. They cannot be guessed at by using random sequences of names, letters, or numbers. Furthermore, email addresses cannot be sent to addresses that were gathered from forums and chat rooms or bought from third-party companies.

Protecting By the CAN-SPAM Act

When it all comes down to it, the CAN-SPAM Act was put in place to protect people from an overabundance of spam emails. Though some email marketers look at it as a drawback, there is really no reason that you should be using unscrupulous methods of email advertising anyways. If you know what you are doing or hire a professional email marketing service that does, then you can create a successful and effective campaign that is well within the legal limits set by the CAN-SPAM Act.