The New Spam Bill and How it Affects You


The President has signed the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. The law goes into effect January 1, 2004 and is preemptive of all state laws. This means that it overrides the thirty-six states that already have spam laws. And, most importantly, it overrides the tough pending California law that was to go in effect January 1st.

The great news is that you only have to comply with one law - the federal law. And, unlike California state law, which would have allowed private citizens to sue spammers for statutory damages of $1000 per email, the federal anti-spam bill does not allow private citizens to sue, only the government and Internet service providers.

While we're opposed to spam, we were opposed to the California law because it would have generated frivolous lawsuits that could have targeted legitimate email marketers. While the lawsuits wouldn't have had any merit, the legitimate marketer being sued would still have had to spend time and money to prove that. With the new federal law, the government will be targeting the worst spammers - the ones that won't remove you from their list no matter how many times you ask, have fake return addresses or unsubscribe links that don't work and use subject lines that have nothing to do with the email message.

The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act requires unsolicited commercial email messages to be labeled as advertisements. All commercial email messages, even those sent to people who have requested to receive information are prohibited from the use of deceptive subject lines and false headers in such messages. Email address "harvesting" and "scraping" (pulling random email addresses off the Internet through manual and automated methods) is also prohibited and all commercial email messages must include opt-out instructions and the sender's physical address.

Additionally, the Federal Trade Commission is authorized (but not required) to establish a "do not email" registry.

What does this mean to you as a network marketer? Well, while the law permits you to send email to people that didn't request it, as long as you comply with a few rules, we don't recommend it. Doing this can generate a lot of irate responses from those you are mailing and some of them may even try to do damage to your computer by sending you thousands of emails at once. Internet Service Providers, such as AOL, MSN, Hotmail, etc. will continue to block and filter out emails that look like spam. But more importantly, you will get a much better response to your promotions if you are emailing people that are interested in what you have.

Here are the rules that need to be followed to comply with the new law if you are sending promotional emails, whether they are unsolicited or to opt-ins (people who have requested information).

  1. Your email header information may not be misleading. The email header is part of the email message, but is not visible to you or the recipient. The header contains a record of where the message originated, what email address sent the message, the time it was sent, and other message details. If you are subscribing to an auto-responder/follow-up system, check to be sure that your provider is in compliance with this.
  2. Your email campaign's "From" address must accurately identify you as the sender. The "From" name should always be your name, your email address or your company name.
  3. Your message must include the ability for your subscribers to opt-out of future email campaigns, and you must honor the removal request within 10 days of the request being sent. Make sure that your email either contains a link the recipient can click to be removed or you include instructions for them to reply to the message, putting "remove" in the subject line. It is no longer acceptable to include a note like "There's no need to opt out. This is only a one-time mailing." Always be sure the recipient can easily opt out of your mailings.
  4. Make sure that your email campaign's "Subject" line is straightforward, not misleading. The subject line must be related to the content of the email message, specifically what is being offered in the message.
  5. Your message must also include your current physical mailing address.
  6. Failing to comply with any of the above can get you into trouble with the Federal Trade Commission. Violators can be fined up to $250 for each email message sent, up to 2 million dollars per email campaign, or spend up to 5 years in prison.

To read the Spam Law in its entirety visit:

Here's what we recommend you do to get the best results from your email promotions:

  1. Purchase leads that are "opt-in", not "co-registration opt-outs". Co-registration opt-out leads are people who filled out a form online to win a prize or enter a contest. On the web page below the form was a list of ads, each of them having a box in front of it that was already checked. The lead then has to uncheck the box if they DON'T want to receive information from the advertiser. Oftentimes, the lead didn't even notice the boxes, so is receiving email about things he/she has no interest in. These leads may be cheap but the response rate is very poor.
  2. Use a "permission-based" list, which means the list recipients have opted in (requested) to receive information regarding a specific subject from you. For example, if you are sending email promotions about your network marketing business, make sure you buy leads that requested information about a home-based business. If you are sending email promotion about your weight loss products, make sure your leads requested information about weight loss. Targeting people who are already interested in what you have will greatly increase the response rate to your promotions.
  3. Be able to provide proof of opt-in, like the date and time the lead opted in, as well as the IP (Internet Page) address. Make sure any leads you buy come with this information or that the lead seller will provide it if someone you email should forget that they opted in and accuse you of spamming them.




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