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What is CAN-Spam Act?

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CAN SPAM Act was formulated to contain the spam emails reaching the inbox of an internet user. It outlines a set of guidelines through which you can ensure that your communication is not marked as spam. Proponents of CAN SPAM hail it as the necessary checks and balances to discourage spammers. However, critics of CAN SPAM point out that as per the Act, you can spam as long as the sender abides by the rules. 

Spam emails are the new flyers of the digital world. However, unlike the physical mail that you could refuse, junk emails continue cluttering up your inbox. Identifying the gravity of this issue, the US Government conceptualized the idea of CAN SPAM in 2003.

The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography snd Marketing Act or CAN SPAM Act was put into effect by President George W. Bush. It was introduced to regulate spam emails, especially sent out by businesses and e-commerce sites. The CAN SPAM Act empowered the receivers to opt out of such promotional emails if they wished to do so.

Furthermore, it gave the US Government the power and authority to set guidelines and impose penalties on commercial institutions if they continue to send emails to the recipients who have unsubscribed. 

Willful spammers found guilty of violating the CAN SPAM can have strict legal and penal actions taken against them! 

How to make your email CAN SPAM compliant?

To make commercial emails CAN SPAM compliant, businesses have to: 

  • Label the email as an advertisement.
  • Use a relevant and legitimate subject for the emails.
  • Provide a valid return email ID along with a physical (or postal) address.
  • Give the user a clear and easy option to unsubscribe from the mailing list.
  • Process the requests of users wishing to opt out within 24 hours to 10 business days.
  • Refrain from selling or transferring email addresses from one list to another.
  • Monitor third-party marketing agencies that are handling their email marketing.

Penalties for Violating the CAN SPAM Act: 

The FTC can slap a fine of $16,000 per email for communications that do not comply with the CAN SPAM Act. You could attract penalties up to $42,530 for non-compliance. 


  • It is believed that the major financial penalties imposed by CAN SPAM will act as a discouragement to spam emails. 
  • Based on the data collected after the enactment of the CAN SPAM Act, the US Government can create a national ‘do not spam’ list. 
  • As per the review reports by FTC presented on 20th December 2005, CAN SPAM has been successful in leveling off spam and sexually explicit emails.


  • As idealistic as the idea may seem, spam is a global problem and not limited to just the US. Thus, imposing any form of legislation beyond the jurisdiction of the US Government will be impossible. 
  • Even though the purpose of the Act is to put an absolute end to spamming, due to the set guidelines, it may appear that businesses can send spam to the customers as long as they abide by the rules. 
  • CAN SPAM preempts certain state laws that may offer better spam-related grievance redressal measures.