Identify and Deal with SPAM

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j0404261-main_Thumb.jpg The term, SPAM, is shorthand for the CAN SPAM Act, signed into law by President George Bush, December 16, 2003. CAN SPAM is an acronym, standing for, “Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act of 2003”.

CAN SPAM originated in response to pornographic materials being sent, via email, to unwitting recipients, including children.

The law placed restrictions on what commercial email marketers could sent. Essentially, those restrictions are:
1) Recipients must be allowed to opt out (unsubscribe) to the that marketer’s email list.
2) The content of the email cannot be sexually explicit.
3) The from line must be accurate.
4) The subject line must be reflective of the content of the email.
5) The sender must provide an accurate physical address in the email.

Popular culture has equated SPAM with unsolicited email. That was never part of the legal definition Act.
1) Providing an email address is legally viewed as implied consent.
2) If you receive an unsolicited email, you have the right to tell the commercial sender not to email to that particular address again.
3) If the sender does not comply with your request, he is in violation of federal law and subject to substantial fines and even criminal prosecution in some cases.

How do we manage unsolicited emails?
1) Without opening the email, use the preview screen to determine whether it’s something you want to see.
2) If it is not, look at the footer of the email to determine if there an unsubscribe link.
A) If there is, use it to opt out. That emailer is now legally prohibited from mailing to that address again.
B) If there is no unsubscribe link, that emailer is not legal. Do not open the email, as that would serve to verify your address as valid. Instead, report the sender to your internet service provider (ISP) as spam, and they will block future emails from that address. Step4SPAM has become an emotional topic for many, likely because we view it from such differing perspectives. Overall, the best tool for combating SPAM, no matter how you define it, remains the delete key.


  • CAN-SPAM preempts (supersedes) state laws.
  • Transactional emails (those containing information about a specific transaction business and void of marketing offers) are exempt from CAN-SPAM legislation.
  • The FTC soundly defeated a motion to create a national “do not email” list.

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