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The Federal Trade Commission has extended the deadline for submitting comments on regulations regarding unsolicited commercial e-mail - spam – to be issued under the recently-enacted CAN-SPAM Act. The Act requires that the Commission issue regulations “defining the relevant criteria to facilitate the determination of the primary purpose of an electronic mail message.” Since the CAN-SPAM Act applies almost exclusively to “commercial electronic mail messages,” defining the criteria used to determine the “primary purpose” of an e-mail will clarify how to determine whether the Act applies to certain electronic messages.

The Commission published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking on March 11, 2004, seeking comment on the mandatory “primary purpose” rulemaking, and on several other issues, including four other areas of discretionary rulemaking authority established in the Act, and several reports that the Act requires the FTC to prepare and submit to Congress. The notice set a deadline of April 12, 2004, to submit responsive comments. The notice set a separate deadline of March 31, 2004, to submit comments regarding the Do Not E-Mail Registry Report. The FTC did not receive any formal request to extend that comment period. That comment period is now closed.

On April 1, 2004, the FTC received a request from several trade associations seeking extension of the April 12 deadline until April 20, 2004. The associations seeking additional time were the Direct Marketing Association, the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the Association of National Advertisers, the Consumer Bankers Association, and the Magazine Publishers of America. The associations cited the religious holidays and the need to consult more fully with their memberships to prepare complete comments as reasons for seeking the extension. The Commission vote to extend the deadline was 5-0.

According to a Federal Register Notice to be published shortly, consumers and organizations will have until April 20 to file comments. Comments can be filed electronically through the federal government’s centralized rulemaking Web site, The FTC posted a “web form” at the site to make it easier for commenters to address the various issues in the Federal Register notice. Commenters may address as many or as few issues as they wish, or skip the form and write what they choose in a text box, or attach a separate document for submission to the record.

Written comments should refer to the CAN-SPAM Act Rulemaking, Project No. R411008, on both the envelope and the text. Comments can be mailed by U.S. Postal Service to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, CAN-SPAM Act, Post Office Box 1030, Merrifield, VA 22116-1030. Courier and overnight delivery cannot be accepted at this Post Office Box. Comments can be delivered by courier or overnight service to Federal Trade Commission/Office of the Secretary, Room 159-H, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. Comments can be mailed by U.S. Postal Service to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, CAN-SPAM Act, Post Office Box 1030, Merrifield, VA 22116-1030. Comments will be placed on the public record.

Copies of both the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and the Federal Register Notice extending the comment period are available from the FTC’s Web site at and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1 877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

(FTC File No. R411008)

Contact Information

Media Contact:
Claudia Bourne Farrell,
Office of Public Affairs

Staff Contact:
Michael Goodman,
Bureau of Consumer Protection