CAN-SPAM Act of 2003: Enforcement by States

can-spam_act_Enforcement by States

Section 7(f) of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 provides that a state attorney general, official, or agency may bring a civil action, as parens patriae, on behalf of the citizens of that state, to enforce certain specific provisions of the Act.  See 15 U.S.C. § 7706(f)(1).  In order to bring such an action, the state attorney general, official, or agency must have reason to believe that interests of the residents of that state have been, or are being, threatened or adversely affected by a person who does one or more of the following:

1) Includes materially false or materially misleading transmission information in a spam email, violating Section 5(a)(1) of the CAN-SPAM Act (codified at 15 U.S.C. § 7704(a)(1));

2) Includes a deceptive subject line in a spam email, violating Section 5(a)(2) of the CAN-SPAM Act (codified at 15 U.S.C. § 7704(a)(2));

3) Fails to adhere to the legal requirements for emails containing "sexually oriented material", violating Section 5(d) of the CAN-SPAM Act (codified at 15 U.S.C. § 7704(d)); or

4) Engages in a pattern or practice that fails to enable effective "opt-out" of spam, violating Sections 5(a)(3), (4), or (5) of the CAN-SPAM Act (codified at 15 U.S.C. § 7704(a)(3)-(5)).

See 15 U.S.C. § 7706(f)(1)

The state attorney general, official, or agency bringing a civil action under this provision of the Act may seek injunctive relief, actual monetary damages, or statutory damages.  See 15 U.S.C. §§ 7706(f)(1)-(3).  If the suit is successful, the court may award attorneys' fees to the state attorney general, official, or agency that brought the action.  See 15 U.S.C. § 7706(f)(4).

Federal regulators, such as the Federal Trade Commission, are given the right to intervene in the action.  See 15 U.S.C. § 7706(f)(5).