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    CAN-SPAM Compliance

    About CAN-SPAM Compliance

    Applies to: All ONTRAPORT accounts.

    Passed in 2003, the CAN-SPAM Act (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act) is "a law that sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out tough penalties for violations."

    Penalties for sending spam email, as defined in the law, can be up to $16,000 per email. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission prosecutes companies for sending spam.

    CAN-SPAM and You

    One common misconception about the CAN-SPAM Act is that it outright bans spamming. If only it were that simple; in point of fact, it bans the use of deceptive email marketing techniques pertaining to email formatting, content and "materially false or misleading" subject lines and headers.

    Many marketers send spam mail without knowing it’s spam. This article is intended to help you avoid that trap, avoid the fines and maintain your mailing reputation.

    The Fine Print

    Follow these simple guidelines as spelled out by the CAN-SPAM Act to practice safe and lawful mailing:

    • No misleading "from" line: It must accurately identify the sender.
    • No misleading header: It must have an IP, domain, and originating email address that were not obtained by false or fraudulent pretenses so the identification of the person or company sending the messages can be determined.
    • No deceptive subject lines: You can’t send an email that will knowingly mislead a recipient regarding the contents or subject matter of the message.
    • Must include return email address: It is illegal to send email with omitted or non-functioning return email address.
    • There are two additional requirements: There must be a way for the recipient to opt-out of an email address that the message was sent from AND have that email address be capable of receiving opt-out request 30 days after the transmission of the original message.
      • The ONTRAPORT "Manage Your Subscription" page that is linked at the bottom of every bulk email you send from ONTRAPORT meets these requirements. You can list your Campaigns and Sequences on the "Manage Your Subscription" page to allow your contacts to fine tune the messages they want to receive.
      • The law allows for technical difficulties beyond your control that prevent you from complying with the requirement that the sending address be available for 30 days after the opt-out request.
    • If client chooses to opt-out using any means, then it is illegal to:
      • Continue sending email after 10 days of receiving the opt-out request.
      • To sell, exchange, lease or transfer the email address of said contact after receiving an opt-out request.
      • Charge for an opt-out.
      • Ask for additional personal information before opting out (besides email address).
    • It is illegal to send email to a protected computer unless: It includes an identifier for advertisements or solicitations (unless you have been given consent to mail), an opt-out option, and a valid postal address.
    • Any email containing sexually oriented material must contain a warning label: As the Bureau of Consumer Protection puts it: "This provision makes sure that recipients cannot view sexually explicit content without an affirmative act on their part – for example, scrolling down or clicking on a link. However, this requirement does not apply if the person receiving the message has already given affirmative consent to receive the sender’s sexually oriented messages."

    For a more in-depth view on the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, check out the Compliance Guide for Business on the FTC's website or you can view the entire Act here

    CAN-SPAM applies to mailers based in the US only. For mailing regulations based in Australia, see Spam Act 2003. 


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