Spam, for those lucky enough to be unfamiliar about it, are those unsolicited commercial emails that often clutter up inboxes with offers of sales and services that range from the reliable to the questionable. Due to the issues presented to consumers, Congress, in its wisdom, enacted a law called the CAN-SPAM Act, and began enforcing it in 2004. First, what is the CAN-SPAM Act and what does it prohibit? Second, as a federal law, does the CAN-SPAM Act override, or preempt those laws a state may already have in place? How can you tell if that may happen?
What is the CAN-SPAM Act?
The CAN-SPAM Act places prohibitions on transmission of any email that contains false or misleading headers or “from” lines. For example, a business that is not Facebook, and has nothing to do with Facebook, would be prohibited from sending an email with the subject “Your Facebook account has been compromised” or send an email from www.facebook.com. In addition, this law places a requirement for three disclosures: (1) clear and conspicuous identification that the message is an advertisement or solicitation; (2) clear and conspicuous notice of the opportunity to decline to receive further commercial email messages from the sender; and (3) a valid physical postal address of the sender. This is done, in part, due to the interest of the legislation in helping consumers under the principle that they should not be misled and should have a right to say no to unsolicited commercial emails.