It may be difficult to believe (depending on your age), but just two decades ago people were still using snail mail to correspond with each other. Although the internet existed, it was still in its infancy. In addition, computers were slow and unreliable – not to mention expensive. Today, it is simply assumed that someone has an email address and would prefer to correspond using email rather than traditional snail mail. While email is certainly a fast and efficient method of communicating, it also offers yet another opportunity for advertisers and others to accost you with unsolicited and unwanted mail. Along with the growth of the use of email as an alternative to traditional mail came the passage of the CAN-SPAM Act in an attempt to protected consumers from all of that unwanted “mail.”
President George W. Bush signed the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act into law back in 2003 as a away to regulate and control commercial e-mail. The law has since come to be known as the “CAN-SPAM” law. Although the Act does make some attempt to regulate “junk” mail, it cannot actually prevent all unwanted e-mail.
The CAN-SPAM Act set the first national standards for commercial e-mail. The Act also gave the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, the authority to enforce provisions of the Act. Unfortunately, the Act has largely been unenforced; however, it remains a federal law. Therefore, if you are a business owner who plans to solicit business through mass generated e-mails it is important to understand some of the key components of the law to avoid running afoul of the law.
According to the CAN-SPAM Act, a “commercial electronic mail message” is defined as “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service (including content on an Internet website operated for a commercial purpose).” If you plan to market your business by sending unsolicited e-mails they must meet the following guidelines:
• Content – the content “from” and “subject” lines must not be false or deceptive. A physical address of the publisher of the content must also be present. If the material within the e-mail is adult in nature it must be labeled appropriately
• Subscription – the e-mail must contain an “unsubscribe” option for the recipient and all requests to unsubscribe must be processed within ten business days.
• Sending – there are a number of requirements that relate to the sending of unsolicited e-mails. For example, the correspondence cannot be sent through an open relay which, effectively, prevents the recipient from knowing where the e-mail really came from and cannot be sent to “harvested e-mail addresses” which are basically lists of addresses sold by other spammers in most cases. The e-mail must also state that it is an advertisement or marketing material.
A violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is typically charged as a misdemeanor; however, the offense can be aggravated when specific prohibited practices are used.
If you have been charged with a violation of the CAN-SPAM Act in Nebraska, or any other federal law, contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
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