CAN-SPAM Act of 2003: Pornographic Material

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Placing limits on the transmission of pornographic emails by spammers was one of Congress's objectives in enacting the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. This is clear from the Senate Commerce Committee Report. Relying on a 2003 Federal Trade Commission Report, the Senate Commerce Committee noted that pornographic spam "is more likely than other forms of spam to contain fraudulent or misleading subject lines." S. Rep. No. 108-102 (2003), at 4. The Committee also expressed disapproval of methods used by spammers to enable pornographic images to open with the opening of a spam email. See S. Rep. No. 108-102 (2003), at 6.

Section 5(d) of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 addresses concerns relating to emails containing "sexually oriented material." See 15 U.S.C. § 7704(d). In general, this section of the Act requires clearly identifiable marks and notices to alert recipients to an email's pornographic content, as well as technical measures to ensure that additional steps must be taken after opening an email before a pornographic image may be viewed. See id.