With the explosion of the Internet, many marketers are using e-mail as an economical and effective way to contact current and prospective customers with information about products and services that may be of interest to them. Unfortunately, unscrupulous marketers have discovered that e-mail is an inexpensive way to send deceptive and misleading solicitations, better known as spam, to consumers. A study by the FTC asserts that nearly two-thirds of all unsolicited e-mails contain false or deceptive claims. Even more alarming is that spam is growing at an unprecedented rate, clogging Internet pathways, frustrating consumers, and greatly reducing the effectiveness of legitimate electronic marketing.
In response to the concerns raised by both consumers and businesses, MPA, working with the Direct Marketing Association, lobbied Congress to find a solution that appropriately balances the need to restrict false and misleading e-mail solicitations with legitimate marketing needs to use email marketing to effectively communicate with current and potential customers. The industry coalition supported the Can Spam Act, introduced by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Conrad Burns (R-MT), which imposes stiff penalties on spammers who engage in false and deceptive marketing, while preempting the inconsistent state law standards.
The Can Spam Act was signed by the President on December 16, 2003, and went into effect on January 1, 2004.