It's Not Yet Time To Can CAN-SPAM

European marketers will face some tough new privacy restrictions when the General Data Protection Regulation takes effect next year. But the exact opposite may happen in the United States. The FTC is reviewing the CAN-SPAM law as part of its anti-regulatory initiative.

The FTC is asking for comments on the impact and benefits of the law, possible conflict between federal and state local laws (federal preempts state in most cases) and the effect on the law of technological and economic changes, according to National Law Review.


To refresh your recollection, CAN-SPAM forbids the use of deceptive headers and subject lines, among other things. Ads have to be identified as such, and consumers must be allowed to opt out.  So what do we lose if it is revised or tossed?

First, no one should get too worked up about this issue. The FTC can tweak certain elements, but it can’t change the law — Congress has to do that, the National Law Review continues. And that probably will not happen. Nor do we want Congress to mess with it: Who knows where it would lead? 

As in the past, you can expect that there will be strong differences of opinion. On the mild side, Lexology wrote: “The willingness of the FTC to revisit the law’s impact on legitimate email marketers is certainly welcome news to those operating in the space.”

The consumerist outlook is a little different. Krebs on Security reported: “Ron Guilmette, an anti-spam activist whose work has been profiled extensively on this blog, didn’t sugar-coat it, calling CAN-SPAM “a travesty that was foisted upon the American people by a small handful of powerful companies, most notably AOL and Microsoft, and by their obedient lackeys in Congress.”
“According to Guilmette, the Act was deliberately fashioned

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