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About The CAN-SPAM Act

The evolution of email opened pathways for the distribution of excessive and unsolicited email spam. In response to growing frustration over the spread of spam containing pornographic material, the United States government signed the Can-Spam Act. But what is the Can-Spam Act, and what does it mean for the average person and small business?

The Can-Spam Act was signed into law in 2003 by President George W. Bush. The act's full name is "Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing", which provides a clear idea about what the act itself is all about. It was designed by the government to help stop the flood of unwanted email that enters the average person's inbox on a daily basis. If you're like most people, you can receive anywhere from 10 to 100 unsolicited emails a day. Does the act actually work, and who is prevented from sending spam?

Understanding the Law

The first thing to know is that the Can-Spam Act is generally designed to work against commercial entities. It defines commercial messages as those that are sent by advertisers and whose primary purpose is to advertise a product or service. It uses the subject line and the content in order to try to decipher if the email that was received is actually commercial or not. If there is anything in the email, such as an invoice or a receipt, the email is considered to contain "transactional" information and is legal.

There is, however, a catch. The Can-Spam Act allows marketers to send unsolicited email as long as the person who is reading the email has the option to unsubscribe from email list or send a behavior compliance notice to the marketer. What does this mean? This means that pretty much anyone can send a spam email as long as they allow you the option to unsubscribe and that if they send pornography they make sure that there is a label that identifies it as adult material, which, if you've been following, gets us nowhere.

The other difficult part about this law is actually enforcing it. It's almost impossible to bring charges against a company that is spamming your inbox. Even if you can discover who is sending the email, you will be hard pressed to find a lawyer who is willing to go against the company. You may be able to get a cease and desist letter drawn up, but chances are high that you'll be right back where you started thanks to a sister company of theirs or some other new upstart internet company.

The Can-Spam Act is considered by many to be a very unreliable form of internet policing, and even law makers have agreed that it hasn't helped as much as they thought it would. Will the internet ever have a good policing deal locked in place? No one knows for sure, but until that day, it is best if you learn how to protect yourself from spam and scam email.

Email Spam & Scams