CAN-SPAM Act of 2003: Policy Goals and Purposes

Primary tabs

Section 2(b) of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 contains the following Congressional Determination of Public Policy, which is premised on the Congressional Findings in Section 2(a):

(1) there is a substantial government interest in regulation of commercial email on a nationwide basis;

(2) senders of commercial email should not mislead recipients as to the source or content of email; and

(3) recipients of commercial email have a right to decline to receive additional commercial email from the same source [i.e. a right to "opt-out"].

This Congressional Determination of Public Policy is codified at 15 U.S.C. § 7701(b).

The Senate Commerce Committee Report supplements this Congressional Determination of Public Policy. The Report states that the purposes of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 are to:

(1) prohibit the senders of commercial email from deceiving intended recipients or internet service providers as to the source or subject-matter of the email;

(2) require the senders of commercial email to give recipients the opportunity to decline to receive future emails from them [i.e. to "opt-out"], and to honor such requests;

(3) require the senders of commercial email to include a valid physical address in the email message, and to provide "clear notice" that the message is an advertisement or solicitation; and

(4) prohibit businesses from knowingly promoting, or permitting the promotion of, their trade or business through email transmitted with false or misleading sender or routing information.

See S. Rep. No. 108-102 (2003), at 1.

These statements, together with Congress's statements about the legislative background and context of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, provide insight into the policy goals Congress sought to achieve. For this reason, these statements can aid in the interpretation of the Act, and in the understanding of its limitations in addressing the problem of spam.