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Commercial e-mail must adhere to CAN-SPAM rules

November 22, 2010
The Federal Trade Commission distinguishes e-mail messages that are "commercial" or "transactional or relationship"in content. Effective March 28, all commercial e-mail must abide with  the CAN-SPAM Act. The Controlling the Assault of Non- Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act requires businesses to prominently offer their customers the opportunity to opt-out of future commercial e-mail solicitations. Commercial e-mails also must be identified as an advertisement solicitation and provide a valid physical postal address for the dealer's business. The FTC defines a commercial email message is "any electronic mail message in which the primary purpose is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service (including content on a Web site operated for a commercial purpose)." Certain criteria can determine whether an e-mail is "commercial": • If an e-mail contains only a commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service, then the primary purpose of the message is commercial, and it must adhere to CAN-SPAM requirements. • If an e-mail message contains both commercial content and "transactional or relationship" content, then the primary purpose of the message still is commercial, and it must adhere to CAN-SPAM.• If an e-mail message contains only "transactional or relationship" content, the message is exempt from  the FTCenforced act. Do-not-e-mail registry not feasible The CAN-SPAM Act also called on the FTC to develop a plan and timetable for establishing a Do-Not-E-mail registry. However, the FTC determined that such a registry would not reduce the amount of unwanted commercial email and could not be enforced effectively. A better solution, according to the FTC, would be the development of a "robust" e-mail authentication system that would "prevent spammers from hiding their tracks." Each violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is subject to an $11,000 fine.
 

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