In June, 2017, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) sought public comment on the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (“CAN-SPAM”). At that time, it had been nearly 15 years since the passage of CAN-SPAM and the FTC was seeking public opinion on the costs, benefits, and regulatory impact that the email law had on consumers, and whether it should be modified in any way.

What were the results of the public comment exercise?

The FTC had sought comment on whether the period for processing opt-out requests should be shortened from 10-business days, whether the category of what constitutes “transactional or relationship messages” should be expanded, and whether the FTC should specify and include any additional activities or practices that could be considered aggravated CAN-SPAM violations. On February 12, 2019, the FTC announced that after receiving and evaluating 92 comments, it had voted 5-0 in favor of keeping the email law as it presently exists, without change.

Federal Email Law – Protect Yourself

CAN-SPAM was signed into law in 2003, to establish standards for the transmission of commercial email messages. In general, the email law requires senders of commercial email to display accurate email header and subject lines, identify the messages as advertisements, include valid physical postal addresses, and provide recipients with the ability to opt-out of the receipt of future commercial email communications (such opt-out requests must be processed within 10-business days of receipt).

When initiating an email marketing campaign, businesses should observe certain best practices in order to minimize the risk of liability under CAN-SPAM and its state email law equivalents. Working with experienced email marketing counsel prior to commencing any marketing campaign can reduce your risk of exposure to regulatory investigation and expensive litigation.