CAN-SPAM Act of 2003: Role of the Federal Trade Commission

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As discussed in the Senate Commerce Committee Report, the core requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 establish principles that commercial emailers must follow if they are to legally send spam; violations of these principles comprise "unfair or deceptive acts or practices" that are to be addressed through the enforcement powers of the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC"). S. Rep. No. 108-102 (2003), at 17. The FTC is thus envisioned as the primary enforcer of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, although other Federal agencies are also given enforcement powers under the Act. See 15 U.S.C. §§ 7706(a)-(e).

The FTC was also given regulatory rulemaking powers pursuant to Section 13 of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. See 15 U.S.C. § 7711. Rules adopted pursuant to those powers are set forth at 16 C.F.R. § 316.

In addition to its enforcement and regulatory powers, the FTC was required by Sections 9-11 of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 to submit several reports to Congress. See 15 U.S.C. §§ 7708-7710. Several of these reports are set forth at the FTC's Spam Microsite, including:

1) A report examining the potential utility and effectiveness of a National "Do Not Email Registry"; and

2) A report examining the effectiveness of a "bounty" system for catching spammers.