The FTC recently released a short video which explains – in broad strokes – how to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 (bonus points for anyone who knows what CAN-SPAM stands for without looking it up). CAN-SPAM is one of the most misunderstood federal laws around, and the FTC’s video is a helpful tool to understanding how to comply. The video – which can be accessed here – gives seven guidelines for compliance:
- no false or misleading header info (the “to,” “from” and domain name, etc…)
- no deceptive subject lines
- disclosure that the email is an advertisement
- a physicial address (can be a P.O. box)
- unsubscribe mechanism(s) (can be email or web-based; best to make unsubscribe in text format due to image blockers)
- promptly honor unsubscribes in 10 business days
- recognition that can’t out-source liability (brands and marketers can be jointly and severally liable for non-compliant emails to the tune of $16,000 per violation).
It is important to keep in mind that unlike certain other consumer protection statutes, CAN-SPAM does not provide for a private right of action. That is, individuals cannot sue directly for a putative violation; rather, they must file a complaint with their attorney general who may launch an investigation.