CAN-SPAM Updates Go Into Effect Today

For those engaged in or planning to implement email marketing campaigns, please be advised that new rule provisions pertaining to the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (CAN-SPAM) go into effect today. Twelve Horses recommends consulting with your own legal counsel to determine how these rules specifically impact your email campaigns. However, we would like to provide you with some more information. Below is a summary of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approved rules.

(1) an e-mail recipient cannot be required to pay a fee, provide information other than his or her e-mail address and opt-out preferences, or take any steps other than sending a reply e-mail message or visiting a single Internet Web page to opt out of receiving future e-mail from a sender; (2) the definition of “sender” was modified to make it easier to determine which of multiple parties advertising in a single e-mail message is responsible for complying with the Act’s opt-out requirements; (3) a “sender” of commercial e-mail can include an accurately-registered post office box or private mailbox established under United States Postal Service regulations to satisfy the Act’s requirement that a commercial e-mail display a “valid physical postal address”; and (4) a definition of the term “person” was added to clarify that CAN-SPAM’s obligations are not limited to natural persons.

How does this effect you?

As long as you are sending permission-based emails, and your opt-out pages are in compliance, you have very little to worry about. The 10-day mandatory opt-out requirement is still in place, and the Commission determined not to “designate additional ‘aggravated violations’ under the Act.” But you need to be sure you are in compliance. Here is some more information as it applies to the above provisions.

  1. The first provision deals with Unsubscribe Requirements. If you require your customers to visit more than one web page or enter a password to unsubscribe from your email list then you are not in compliance. In addition, a recipient cannot be required to provide anything other than their email address. This means you cannot ask for their physical mailing address or request a fee.
  2. The second provision addresses the Definition of a Sender. If your company engages in affiliate marketing and sends email campaigns representing more than one brand, there must be a designated lead marketer. In other words, whomever is listed in the “From” line is the designated sender and the one who manages the unsubscribes. Agencies who send email campaigns on behalf of their clients or partners should also pay careful attention to this.
  3. The third provision is fairly minor but indicates that you can now list a PO Box as a valid physical address.
  4. The fourth provision clarifies the definition of a “Person.” The FTC has made it clear that no organization, association, group, or non-profit is exempt from the rules under CAN-SPAM.

The FTC also made it clear that the same rules apply to any “Forward-to-a-Friend” action. Furthermore, there has been clarification of “transactional or relationship message(s).” If a customer unsubscribes from your list, this applies to any additional email that is ever sent from your brand in the future. This means making sure your data is clean and synchronized and replicated across all departments within the organization.

Hopefully this helps you take the proper course of action regarding your email marketing endeavors. If you need any assistance with your email campaigns and/or the management of your data please feel free to Contact Us.

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