FTC Guidelines For Porn Email

Gretchen Gallen
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A month after the Can-Spam Act was enacted on Jan. 1, 2004, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has added specific regulations for senders of pornographic emails.

As part of Can-Spam, Congress tapped the FTC to determine the proper labeling for email containing adult material. The FTC was also given the task of implementing a 'Do Not Email' registry within six months of the law's enactment for those email recipients who want to block out certain spammers.

Effective June 2004, all unsolicited porn emails will have to bear the subject header: "SEXUALLY-EXPLICIT-CONTENT," the FTC said in a statement.

The FTC's federal regulations will override previous laws that required porn emails to contain ADV:ADULT in the email header.

According to Reuters, the FTC felt that the previous header was not specific enough to the adult industry and could just as easily apply to gambling or tobacco solicitations.

The FTC is also saying that adult-related emails are not allowed to contain graphic material in the body of the email, including sexually explicit pictures, and if caught, the sender will be subject to fines of $11,000 per email. Additionally, State Attorney Generals can sue porn emailers for damages of up to $250 per message with a $2 million cap.

The FTC is calling the new mandate an "electronic brown paper wrapper" for the adult industry.

"This 'brown paper wrapper' would be what a recipient would initially see when opening a message containing sexually oriented material," the FTC said in a statement. "It would include the prescribed mark or notice, certain other specified information, and no other information or images."

However, senders of porn email will be allowed to include hyperlinks to access their material, the FTC stated.

Email marketers who want to remain lawful will also be required to provide a physical address in the email and an easy way to opt-out of future mailings.

The CAN-SPAM Act required the FTC to determine the header label within 120 days of the law's enactment. The public feedback period ends on Feb. 17.