Using Business Email? Beware Can-SPAM
Businesses that send emails to customers need to be mindful of the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act, a law that sets rules for commercial email. Failure to follow the law can be costly - each separate email in violation is subject to thousands of dollars in penalties from the federal government.
Enacted in 2003, Can-SPAM was intended to protect consumers from unwanted commercial messages. The Federal Trade Commission notes that it doesn’t apply just to bulk email. It covers all commercial messages, which the law defines as ‘any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service.’ This includes email that promotes content on commercial websites.
Some of the basic requirements include:
- Say who you are. The “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.
- Don’t use deceptive subject lines. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
- Identify the message as an ad. There are a lot of ways to do this, including small print at the bottom of the email. But the email must disclose clearly and conspicuously that the message is an advertisement.
- Tell recipients where you’re located. The message must include the business’ valid physical postal address. This can be a current street address, a post office box registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox.
- Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email. The message must include a clear explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting future emails. When a customer does opt-out, the request must be honored within 10 business days.
- Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. Businesses are legally responsible for the actions of any vendor they hire to send marketing emails on their behalf.