• FTC Approves New CAN-SPAM Provisions
  • June 15, 2008
  • Law Firm: Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP - Los Angeles Office
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has approved four new provisions under CAN-SPAM, the 2003 law aimed at curtailing unwanted commercial e-mails.

    The FTC said the new rules, which are intended to clarify the Act’s requirements, will be published in the Federal Register shortly. Then rules address the following four issues:

    (1) A clarification that an e-mail recipient cannot be required to pay a fee, provide information other than an e-mail address and opt-out preferences, or take any steps other than sending a reply e-mail message or visiting a single Web page to opt out of receiving future e-mail from a sender.

    (2) The modification of the definition of “sender,” 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 clarification that 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 “valid physical postal address” requirement.

    (4) A modification of the term “person” to clarify that CAN-SPAM’s obligations are not limited to natural persons.

    In addition, text accompanying the final rule addresses a number of topics that are not the subject of any new rule provisions. These include CAN-SPAM’s definition of “transactional or relationship message”; the agency’s decision not to alter the length of time a “sender” of commercial e-mail has to honor an opt-out request; the agency’s determination not to designate additional “aggravated violations” under the Act; and the agency’s views on how CAN-SPAM applies to “forward-to-a-friend” e-mail marketing campaigns, in which someone either receives a commercial e-mail message and forwards the e-mail to another person, or uses an Internet-based mechanism to forward a link or copy of a Web page to another person. The FTC explains that, as a general matter, if the seller offers something of value in exchange for forwarding a commercial message, the seller must comply with the Act’s requirements, such as honoring opt-out requests.