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FTC to Stiffen, Clarify CAN-SPAM Act

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The all-seeing
eye of the FTC

eWeek reports that the Federal Trade Commission wants to stiffen some parts and clarify other elements of the CAN-SPAM Act. The Commission proposed five changes, currently open to public comment: requiring unsubscribe requests be honored in three days, rather than ten; make illegal the requirement to provide money or information in order to unsubscribe; explicitly stating that P.O boxes are sufficient as a physical address; defining which party the "sender" is; and defining the word "person."

The biggest hot button issue among the changes has been the definition of the "sender," with some advertisers suggesting that the email service providers are the senders and should be the parties responsible for compliance. Similarly, many companies have been ducking responsibility for emails sent out on their behalf by affiliate marketers.

Some advertisers, worried that they may someday be held accountable for marketing campaigns done on their behalf, have made affiliate marketers agree not to use email to generate business. To make sure indirect relationships weren't exploited to evade having to comply with the measures, Congress added to the CAN-SPAM Act the McCain Amendment, putting any party that benefits from an email on the hook for potential compliance liability.

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