Question: What changes did the FTC propose recently to the CAN-SPAM rules?

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Answer:The CAN-SPAM Act, introduced in 2003, is due for its first makeover by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The commission has proposed rule revisions on five topics:

  • Define the term "person," which is a term used repeatedly throughout the act but is never defined.
  • Modify the definition of "sender" to make it easier to determine which party advertising in a single e-mail message will be responsible for complying with the act’s opt-out requirements.
  • Clarify that post office boxes and private mailboxes constitute valid physical postal addresses.
  • Reduce from 10 to three the number of days a sender may take before honoring a recipient’s opt-out request.
  • Simplify the process for submitting a valid opt-out request. Under the proposed rules, a recipient cannot be required to pay a fee, provide information other than his or her e-mail address and opt-out preferences, or take any steps other than sending a reply e-mail message or visiting a single Internet Web page to opt-out.

Comments on the proposed CAN-SPAM changes will be accepted by the Commission until June 27.

Chip House is VP-privacy and deliverability at ExactTarget, an Indianapolis-based provider of permission-based e-mail marketing solutions. He can be reached at

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