Follow the US CAN-SPAM Act

Much of the email the University sends out is governed by the Federal CAN-SPAM Act.

Email subject to the CAN-SPAM Act

Any UD emails that meets one of the following criteria are covered by the CAN-SPAM Act.

  • Email that sells or promotes the sale of tickets for an event (on or off campus).
  • Email that promotes the University to prospective students.
  • Email that offers a good or service for sale (by the University or by an individual making the offer with his or her UD email account).
  • Email that is sent on behalf of the University by a third party external organization.
  • Email that promotes for profit or revenue generating activities.


Transactional email is exempt from most of the rules outlined in the CAN-SPAM Act. As Michigan State University advises its regional alumni clubs,

A "transactional or relationship message" - email that facilitates an agreed-upon transaction or updates a customer in an existing business relationship - may not contain false or misleading routing information, but otherwise is exempt from most provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act.
Source: Email Communications | MSU Alumni Association

Examples of transactional email are listed below:

  • Email receipts
  • Official email from the University or from a University employee that is part of the University's business process:
    • Bills
    • HR notices about benefit plan options
    • Student aid notices
    • Registration notices
    • Announcements of University events for which admission is free.
  • Course-related email.

UD-specific guidelines

The following guidelines are adapted from the US Federal Trade Commission's website.

  1. Accurate email information:

    • 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.
    • Don’t use deceptive subject lines. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
  2. Identify messages that ask for donations as "solicitations" and identify messages that adverstise a good or service for sale as an "advertisement."

  3. Provide valid return address (email and physical).

    • Name of University department sending the campaign
    • Physical address
    • Phone number (optional under the law, but provides extra verification)
    • Email address
  4. Opt-out requirements:

    • 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.
    • Honor opt-out requests promptly. You must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days.
    • You can’t charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request.
    • The opt-out provision does not apply to transactional email sent to current students, faculty members, or employees.
  5. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. Even if you hire another company to handle your email marketing, you can’t contract away your legal responsibility to follow the provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act.


Article ID: 691
Fri 2/28/20 3:30 PM
Fri 2/28/20 4:14 PM