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What types of customer email messages need to follow CAN-SPAM rules?

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We send email messages to our customers regularly and need to determine which messages should get approval from legal before going out.
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You need to distinguish between what CAN-SPAM refers to as commercial vs transactional or relationship content. Commercial email is subject to CAN-SPAM while transactional or relationship email is subject only to provisions such as not containing false routing information. If the content of the email message is designed to advertise products or services, then it is commercial. If the content is intended to provide information about a transaction or an ongoing customer relationship related to a transaction (advertising messages to existing customers are still commercial content), then it is transactional or relationship content. You may want some legal approval process for all customer emails because your messages may contain both commercial and transactional or relationship content requiring some judgment to be made. The FTC website link contains more detail on CAN-SPAM that may be helpful to you.

https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/can-spam-act-compliance-guide-business
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You should also consider that email sent to people outside the United States might subject to an entirely separate set of rules.

For example, in the European Union, privacy restrictions are much more restrictive, especially when it comes to electronic communications.