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FTC Completes CAN-SPAM Review

Article by Tony Patti

Their verdict?  No changes.

Some background: the FTC solicited public comment on the CAN-SPAM rule back in June 2017.  In question was whether or not the rule was still needed and what if any changes needed to be made due to technology and economic changes that have occurred in the 16 years that have passed since the rule was enacted.

The FTC specifically requested comment on these three issues:

  1. Should the definition and category of ‘transactional or relationship’ messages be changed?
  2. Should the time period to process unsubscribe or opt-out requests be shortened?
  3. Are there now additional email activities or practices that should be considered violations?

Over 92 comments were received from individuals, consumer and  trade organizations and reviewed by the Commision. On February 12 they announced the Commission had voted 5-0  to keep the rule in place with no changes.

Email marketers have usually felt intimidated by the CAN-SPAM Act while anti-spam advocates have always felt that the CAN-SPAM Act didn’t go far enough.

We can see both sides.  The CAN-SPAM Act has given businesses a national standard for commercial email, a reasonable time period to take action on opt-outs  and a strong history of FTC enforcement that has protected consumers and created a healthy marketplace for email senders who follow the rules.   

The truth though is that the CAN-SPAM Act does set a pretty low bar for email senders.  

CAN-SPAM compliance should just be a starting point for governing your relationship with your email audience.  

Sending your audience email messages that are relevant to their interests and NOT sending email to recipients who don’t want it is the best way to raise engagement rates and accomplish 95%+ inboxing rates.

Tell us what you think.  Were changes really needed?   Or was it fine to leave it as is?

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Further Reading:

FTC Press Release

Federal Register Notice