New US anti-spam law

Disclaimer: This page is for informational purposes only. No warranty is expressed or implied. We encourage you to speak with your own legal advisor.


The new U.S. anti-spam law, the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 PDF, took effect on January 1, 2004.

What it requires

The law requires the following for all unsolicited commercial email, regardless of number of emails sent:
  • Include a way to unsubscribe over the Internet
    • Honor unsubscribes within 10 days
    • Unsubscribe mechanism must work for at least 30 days after message is sent
  • Include the sender's valid postal mailing address
  • Clearly identify the email as an advertisement in some fashion
  • Use an accurate sender name and a valid email address
  • Accurately describe the content of the email in the subject line

How Email Marketer helps you comply

Email Marketer helps you avoid legal penalties by:

Handling unsubscribes

Email Marketer automatically handles unsubscribes. Recipients may:
  • Click the unsubscribe link automatically appended by Email Marketer
  • Send an email unsubscribe request
Email Marketer handles both kinds of unsubscribes automatically and makes sure these recipients are not sent email again.

Managing subscriptions

Email Marketer' subscription manager lets recipients view and update all their subscriptions in a single screen.

Adding postal mailing address

Account window

Email Marketer lets you automatically append your postal mailing address to outgoing messages, to comply with the new law.

Identifying advertisements

Email Marketer lets you automatically add the following to commercial email, to comply with the new law:
  • An "Advertisement" line at the beginning of the message
  • The phrase "ADV:" in the email subject

What the law covers

The law applies to unsolicited advertisements and promotional emails. It also covers many email newsletters:
The term commercial electronic mail message means any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service (including content on an Internet website operated for a commercial purpose).
This law pre-empts existing state anti-spam laws. It applies if your business or organization is located within the United States, or if any recipient is within the U.S.

What it doesn't cover

  • Requested email: If recipients have specifically agreed to receive such messages, the requirements below do not apply
  • Relationship and transactional business email: e.g. email about orders, accounts, ongoing services, and product updates for which the recipient has already paid, is required only to use an accurate sender name and email address, and not falsify the sender IP address
  • Non-commercial email: e.g. email about non-profit and political events

Additional requirements


  • Don't falsify the sender IP address
  • Don't send email through an outgoing mail (SMTP) server you're not authorized to use
  • Don't collect or harvest email addresses from Web pages or Usenet newsgroups
  • Don't create email addresses using a random generator or dictionary
  • Include a warning in the email subject if the message contains adult content


Although the law took effect on 1/1/04, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will clarify some of its provisions in the near future:
  • Will recommend more specifically how to classify a message as an advertisement, within 12 months
  • Will recommend more specifically how advertisements must identify themselves, within 18 months
  • Will recommend rewards for reporting violators, within 9 months
  • May recommend a national do-not-email registry, within 6 months
  • Will decide on a way to identify adult content in the subject line, within 120 days
  • Will decide on how to prevent cellular phone spam, within 270 days