March 3, 2004, 12:00 AM

CAN-Spam? What’s that? ask owners of small online businesses

62% of small businesses with web sites have never heard of the CAN-Spam Act or are unaware of how it affects their business, says a survey from Interland Inc., provider of web hosting for small businesses.

Despite all the publicity the CAN-Spam Act has received, 62% of small businesses with web sites have never heard of the legislation or are unaware of how it affects their business, says a survey from Interland Inc., a provider of web hosting and online services for small businesses. Yet 85% of survey respondents use e-mail to communicate with customers and 67% use e-mail to communicate with prospective customers. CAN-Spam is federal legislation that regulates e-mail marketing practices.

"Companies caught unaware of the new law but engaged in e-mail marketing could be in for an expensive lesson," says Jonathan Wilson, vice president and general counsel of Interland. "The CAN-Spam Act creates very specific requirements for commercial e-mails, including both civil and criminal penalties for violations. We have recently seen a flurry of litigation surrounding unauthorized downloading of music from peer-to-peer networks, and it is very likely that, sooner or later, some unaware small business is going to feel the power of this new anti-spam law in a similar way."

Interland has developed the Small Business Guide To Understanding CAN-SPAM Legislation and is making it available for free to small businesses.

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