The CAN-SPAM Act is a law in the United States enacted in 2003 that sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, and gives recipients the right to stop receiving emails. The act is aimed at controlling spam, which is unsolicited email typically sent in bulk. Violation of the CAN-SPAM Act can result in hefty fines.


The phonetics of “CAN-SPAM Act” would be: kæn-spæm ækt

Key Takeaways


  1. Requirement for Transparency: The CAN-SPAM Act mandate companies to be transparent in their communication by clearly stating who is sending the email, where they are located, and providing a way for recipients to opt out of future emails.
  2. Penalties for Violation: Failure to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act can result in severe penalties, with fines up to $43,792 per violation, highlighting the importance of adhering to these guidelines.
  3. Opt-out Mechanism: The Act requires businesses to include a visible and operational opt-out mechanism in their marketing emails, and to honour any opt-out requests within 10 business days.



The CAN-SPAM Act is crucial because it sets the rules for commercial email and commercial messages, giving recipients the right to have a business stop emailing them, and outlining the penalties incurred for those who violate the law. It’s important in controlling the spam problem that is prevalent in emails today. It includes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out harsh penalties for violations. By imposing restrictions and regulations on what is permissible in the conduct of commercial email, it consequently decreases the amount of unwanted and unsolicited email that users receive, protecting them and making the use of email as a method of communication more efficient.


The CAN-SPAM Act (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act) is a legislation passed in the United States in 2003 with the significant purpose of establishing rules for commercial emails and messages. The Act aims to protect consumers from unsolicited emails, generally known as spam. It sets out guidelines for businesses to follow when sending out promotional or commercial emails, stating the penalties for violators and providing an option for recipients to decline such emails. The goal is to create a safer, less cluttered email environment for users, and it applies to all commercial messages, where the primary purpose is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service.The key provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act ensure that email recipients have the right to have businesses stop emailing them and that the content of commercial emails is not deceptive or misleading. These demands necessitate that all emails must clearly specify they are advertisements, include the physical address of the sender, and give recipients an explicit method to opt-out from future mails. If recipients opt-out from receiving emails, businesses must honor that request within 10 business days. The act is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and non-compliance can lead to severe penalties. Thus, the CAN-SPAM Act serves as a tool for managing digital marketing and communication strategies within a respectful and consumer-friendly approach.


1. Reputable Email Marketing Services: Email marketing platforms like Mailchimp or Constant Contact strictly adhere to the CAN-SPAM Act. When businesses use these services, they are required to provide a valid physical address and an opt-out mechanism in every email campaign. They also ensure there’s no misleading header information or deceptive subject lines, embracing the rules of the CAN-SPAM Act.2. Enforcement by the FTC: In 2008, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged an online retailer, ValueClick, for violating the CAN-SPAM Act by using deceptive emails, misleading subject lines, and failing to provide an opt-out mechanism. This led to ValueClick paying a $2.9 million penalty, one of the largest ever for a CAN-SPAM violation.3. Compliance by Major Companies: Major corporations such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook, follow the CAN-SPAM Act’s guidelines in their email communications. For instance, if you look at any promotional emails from these companies, they always include an option for the recipients to unsubscribe or opt-out of future emails. If the recipient chooses to unsubscribe, the company is obligated to honour that request within 10 business days, as stipulated by the CAN-SPAM Act.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

**Q: What is the CAN-SPAM Act?**A: The CAN-SPAM Act is a law that sets rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have businesses stop emailing them, and spells out tough penalties for violations. It stands for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003.**Q: When was the CAN-SPAM Act enacted?**A: The CAN-SPAM Act was enacted by the U.S Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush on December 16, 2003.**Q: What types of emails are covered under the CAN-SPAM Act?**A: The Act applies to any electronic mail message where the primary purpose is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service, including content on a website operated for a commercial purpose.**Q: What are some of the requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act?**A: Some key requirements include not using false or misleading header information, not using deceptive subject lines, identifying the message as an advertisement, including the physical postal address of the sender, explaining how to opt-out of future emails, and honoring opt-out requests promptly.**Q: What are the penalties for violating the CAN-SPAM Act?**A: The Act provides for penalties of up to $43,280 per violation. In certain circumstances, violations of the Act can also lead to criminal prosecution, including imprisonment.**Q: Is the CAN-SPAM Act enforced only in the United States?**A: While the Act is a U.S. law, it applies to any entity sending commercial emails to recipients in the United States, regardless of where the sender is based. **Q: Does the CAN-SPAM Act apply to business-to-business email?**A: Yes, the Act covers all commercial messages, which it defines as “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service,” including email that promotes content on commercial websites. This also includes B2B emails. **Q: How does the CAN-SPAM Act protect consumers from spam?**A: The Act gives consumers the right to ask emailers to stop spamming them. The Act requires that commercial emails give the email recipient an opt-out method, and these opt-out requests must be processed within ten business days.

Related Finance Terms

  • Commercial Email
  • Opt-out Mechanism
  • Identifiers
  • Email Service Provider
  • Non-Compliance Penalties

Sources for More Information


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