FTC Extends Comment Period on Spam Regulation

April 7, 2004

Comments Will be Accepted until April 20, 2004

Washington, DC -- Today the Commission adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking relating to protecting consumers from SPAM and unauthorized telemarketing calls on their mobile phones.

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, www.regulations.gov. 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.

Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or communications@alta.org.

North American Title Insurance Company (NATIC) is a seasoned title insurance underwriter, helping title agents to achieve their individual business goals for more than 50 years. Today, the company conducts real estate settlement services in 39 states and the District of Columbia through a network of experienced, independent agents.