The CAN-SPAM Act, a law that sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them. Most public agencies are not subject to its requirements because of its commercial focus, but your communications tools are built to help you stay compliant.
Here’s a rundown of CAN-SPAM’s requirements, and how we keep you compliant:
Don’t use false or misleading header information. Your “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information – including the originating domain name and email address – must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.
When you send from PublicInput.com, you must use PublicInput.com or an email domain that you control. If you create custom email addresses on the platform, it's important to use names that align closely with your organization or project.
Don’t use deceptive subject lines. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
This is a no-brainer, but remember to keep your subject on-message.
Identify the message as an ad. The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.
Unless you're advertising services (such as a new fee-based program), this will not apply. Just be aware if you do decide to advertise paid offerings for your organization, denote this intent clearly in the email message.
Tell recipients where you’re located. Your message must include your valid physical postal address. This can be your current street address, a post office box you’ve registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox you’ve registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.
This is where your email footer is important. The default campaign footer has you covered, but if you customize your email footers, remember to include your organization's address to stay clear of this requirement.
Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you. Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from you in the future. Craft the notice in a way that’s easy for an ordinary person to recognize, read, and understand. Creative use of type size, color, and location can improve clarity. Give a return email address or another easy Internet-based way to allow people to communicate their choice to you. You may create a menu to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to stop all commercial messages from you. Make sure your spam filter doesn’t block these opt-out requests.
When emailing from the system, we add an unsubscribe and subscription management link by default. If you decide to customize your email footer and modify these links, you'll need to include a link to https://PublicInput.com/Manage at the very least to avoid compliance issues.
Honor opt-out requests promptly. Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days.
Again, you're covered by default here. Recipients who unsubscribe using the default system links will instantly be removed from future mailings.
We hope this is helpful context for keeping your email outreach in compliance and recipient-friendly. If you'd like to learn more about the CAN-SPAM act, visit https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/can-spam-act-compliance-guide-business.
Amending the Communications Act of 1934, the TCPA was signed into law in 1991 as a response to a growing rise in unregulated and harassing telemarketing calls and faxes.
The TCPA restricts telephone solicitations (i.e. telemarketing) and the use of automated phone equipment. The Act limits the use of pre-recorded voice messages, automatic dialing, and SMS and fax use. Consumer consent is an essential defense under the TCPA and should be a primary focus of any business that communicates with consumers and customers directly via telephony.
Does the TCPA apply to your outreach?
The TCPA applies to marketing and advertising messages, as well as autodialed or pre-recorded phone calls. Essentially, non-commercial messages and urgent or emergency updates are exempt from the TCPA. But marketing messages that promote or sell a product or service must follow TCPA regulations.
When texting your subscribes, we keep you TCPA compliant by instantly recognizing and honoring standard opt-out language in text messages like "STOP", "UNSUBSCRIBE", and "CANCEL". After a participant sends this message back, we will not deliver any future attempted sends to this participant - these appear as "failed" sends on the backend.
While not legally required, we do recommend you review text replies for any requests to unsubscribe that use less-specific opt-out language. You can un-subscribe participants directly from the text threads interface using the "Unsubscribe from all" option under the reply menu:
If your messages are promoting a product or service, it's important that you obtain express written consent to send recipients a message. The consent must be in a documented and saved format. Here’s an example of what express written consent for SMS marketing looks like:
- Online or paper form submissions: A participant provides their mobile phone number via an online form or a paper form. The form’s terms state that that the consumer is subscribing to receive text messages from the company upon submission of the form.
Note: Recipients can also check a box if they wish to receive communications from the business. This box cannot be pre-checked.
- Keyword texting: Customers text a short code keyword from their mobile device, consenting to join an SMS database.
We hope this information is helpful when planning your communications and outreach. Even if you're exempt from some or all of the requirements we've covered, it's important to remember that consent, clarity, and honoring opt-out requests are foundational for building a positive relationship with your community.