Effective January 1, 2004, is the federal Controlling the Assault
of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003, known as the
"CAN-SPAM" Act. In short, the Act is a license to spam and is likely to only cause an increase in the amount of spam.
The Act creates new penalties for sending deceptive
spam advertising - which is already illegal.
The Act allows every spammer in the world to send every
Internet user at least one message. The Act also supercedes state laws, thereby eliminating
stronger protections against spam in many states, including
rights of action against spammers, and a California opt-in spam law
which would have taken effect on January 1.
Spam must include notice that the message is an advertisement or
solicitation, an opt-out notice, and a valid postal address of the
sender. If the recipient opts out of the spam, the sender has ten
days to stop spamming. Address harvesting and dictionary attacks are
illegal under the Act, but these practices are considered aggravating
offenses, and they cannot serve as the sole basis of prosecution of a
The Act prohibits falsification of transmission information and
deceptive subject headings. The Act creates criminal prohibitions
against those who knowingly transmit spam through others' computers
without authorization. Also, the FTC may pursue individuals who
knowingly hire others to send deceptive spam.
Spam containing sexually oriented material must be labeled with a notice
that will be developed by the FTC and the Attorney General within six
The Act gives the FTC the authority to create a do-not-spam registry - also known as - here is a list of email addresses to spam.
Enforcement of the Act is limited to the FTC, state attorneys
and Internet Service Providers. Individuals generally cannot sue.
More Information is Available with a Premium Subscription
Text of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003
Letter by National Association of Attorney General's critiquing problems with the law
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