The CAN-Spam Act (of 2003) is the law that lays out the rules that businesses must follow when sending emails to customers and potential customers. Some of the primary takeaways of the CAN-spam act are that emails must include an ‘opt-out’ provision so that recipients may unsubscribe, and that unsubscribing must require no more than visiting a single page on a website. Also, you can’t obtain emails in unscrupulous ways, such as buying or trading email lists without the consent of the people on the those lists.
The most important thing to think about is that 99% of the time people hate receiving emails that they didn’t ask to receive, so if your marketing strategy is relying on this practice, you are probably heading for low results.
In many ways, the CAN-Spam Act is way too loose. It does NOT require businesses to get permission in advance of sending email messages as long as the emails were obtained properly. It also overrides many state laws that would have stronger restrictions against spam email.
Fun fact about the law: the name is an acronym for “Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing.”