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New Federal Legislation Regulates Spam

December 18, 2003

By John J. Altorelli and Thomas P. McGovern

On December 16, 2003, President George W. Bush signed legislation imposing regulations on the distribution of commercial electronic mail messages, the primary purpose of which is the advertising or promotion of a commercial product or service, commonly referred to as spam. The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 or the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 is the first federal legislation enacted to combat the growing use of spam in the United States. The Act requires senders of spam to respect elections by recipients to opt-out of further messages, prohibits certain false or deceptive practices associated with spam, imposes certain labeling and disclosure requirements, permits the creation of a national do-not-email registry and preempts many aspects of state laws dealing with spam.

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