A Summary of Federal Legislation Governing Mass Notification
The CAN-SPAM Act: Requirements for Commercial Emailers
The following PDF by the Federal Trade Commission lists the regulations of the CAN-SPAM Act, including what the law requires and what the penalties are:
The Federal Trade Commission summarizes the CAN-SPAM Act as follows on page 2 of the document:
- Don’t use deceptive subject lines. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
- Identify the message as an ad. The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.
- Tell recipients where you’re located. Your message must include your valid physical postal address. This can be your current street address, a post office box you’ve registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox you’ve registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.
- Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you. Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from you in the future. Craft the notice in a way that’s easy for an ordinary person to recognize, read, and understand. Creative use of type size, color, and location can improve clarity. Give a return email address or another easy Internet-based way to allow people to communicate their choice to you. You may create a menu to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to stop all commercial messages from you. Make sure your spam filter doesn’t block these opt-out requests.
- Honor opt-out requests promptly. Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt‑out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You must honor a recipient’s opt‑out request within 10 business days. You can’t charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request. Once people have told you they don’t want to receive more messages from you, you can’t sell or transfer their email addresses, even in the form of a mailing list. The only exception is that you may transfer the addresses to a company you’ve hired to help you comply with the CAN‑SPAM Act.
- Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. The law makes clear that even if you hire another company to handle your email marketing, you can’t contract away your legal responsibility to comply with the law. Both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that actually sends the message may be held legally responsible.
The following PDF consumer guide lists the regulations imposed by the Federal Communications Commission on phone calls:
The guide discusses the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Here's some background information on the act, as described by the FCC:
Has your evening quiet time or dinner been interrupted by a call from a telemarketer? If so, you’re not alone. Congress first passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in 1991 in response to consumer concerns about the growing number of unsolicited telephone marketing calls to their homes and the increasing use of automated and prerecorded messages. In response, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted rules that require anyone making a telephone solicitation call to your home to provide his or her name, the name of the person or entity on whose behalf the call is being made, and a telephone number or address at which that person or entity can be contacted. The original rules also prohibit telephone solicitation calls to your home before 8 am or after 9 pm, and require telemarketers to comply with any do-not-call request you make directly to the caller during a solicitation call. In June 2003, the FCC supplemented its original rules implementing the TCPA and established, together with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the national Do-Not-Call list.
The following PDF details the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the rules imposed by the FCC:
Here's some background information on the act, as described by the FCC:
As the popularity of mobile phones surged in the early 2000s, frequent users of text messaging began to see an increase in the number of unsolicited (and generally unwanted) commercial advertisements being sent to their telephones through text messaging. This can be particularly annoying for the recipient, because unlike email, it is usually difficult or impossible to delete an SMS message without reading it. In addition, some wireless service providers, notably in the USA, charge a fee for every message received, including spam, placing users in the unenviable position of having to pay to receive unwanted spam on their mobile phones.