On February 12, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced that, after a review of the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (“CAN-SPAM”) Rule as part of its periodic review of its regulations, it has determined that the Rule does not need to be modified at this time.
The CAN-SPAM Act was enacted in 2003 and established rules for the transmission of all commercial email messages, defined as messages whose primary purpose is the advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service. The CAN-SPAM Rule, which implemented the Act, requires commercial messages to contain accurate header and subject-line information, identify the message as an advertisement, include the sender’s physical postal address, and provide the recipient with the ability to opt out of future messages.
The FTC periodically reviews its rules and guides to obtain information about their costs and benefits and to determine whether modification or rescission of any rule is necessary. As part of this process, in June 2017, the FTC sought public comment on the CAN-SPAM Rule. It sought comment generally regarding the usefulness of the Rule, whether consumers have benefitted from the Rule, and whether technological or economic changes warrant amendment of the Rule. The FTC also invited commenters to address three specific issues: (1) whether it should change the categories of messages treated as “transactional or relationship messages”; (2) whether it should shorten the time period for processing opt-out requests; and (3) whether it should define additional activities that constitute aggravated violations.
The FTC considered 92 comments in response to its request, most of which were from individual consumers. The majority of the commenters asserted that there is a continuing need for the Rule and supported keeping the Rule. After reviewing the comments, the FTC concluded that the benefits of the Rule outweigh its minimal costs, and the Rule should be retained. By a vote of 5-0, the FTC agreed to publish confirmation of the Rule in the Federal Register.