What Does CAN-SPAM Act Mean?

The CAN-SPAM Act is a U.S. law that governs email laws pertaining to e-commerce and businesses. Not only does CAN-SPAM set these laws, but it also develops the requirements for commercial emailing. It is primarily known for boundary establishment of e-commerce, such that email recipients have the right to stop receiving emails, and it divulges clear and strict penalties should emails not cease upon the recipient’s request. The CAN-SPAM Act encompasses all areas of email messages, including those promoting commercial website content. The law makes no exception for business-to-business (B2B) emails.


Techopedia Explains CAN-SPAM Act

The U.S. CAN-SPAM Act is short for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003. It was implemented to set standards for commercial emailing, often called “spam.”

According to the law, subject lines must be clear and accurately reflect email content. In addition, email marketing messages must be identified as electronic advertisements and identify the sender’s location. The CAN-SPAM Act dictates that e-commerce emails must also inform recipients about how to opt out of future electronic advertising messages. Adherence to opt-out requests must occur in a timely fashion, such as 24 hours or a few business days. Opt-out fees cannot be imposed, and if an e-commerce company hires a contractor to handle online advertising or marketing, it must follow up with these companies and monitor them to ensure they are abiding to the CAN-SPAM Act. This is to the contracting company’s benefit because the company is liable for all CAN-SPAM violations.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.