Is the LAPD breaking the CAN-SPAM Law?

http://blogging.la/archives/images/2007/01/_LAPDspam-thumb.jpgI just received an email from the LAPD under the guise of the E-Police Newsletter I signed up for a while back. As I’ve mentioned before, I haven’t been receiving many notices from them, even though I know that others in farther off communities have.

However, I just received my first email from them in nearly one month: an ad for Wells Fargo Bank’s “Hands on Banking Program”, encouraging children how to save, with Wells Fargo’s help, of course. (click the image for full sized readability).

Sure, there’s a lame mention at the top that the LAPD will be offering free fingerprinting for kids as part of an event Wells Fargo is having at their Hollywood office… but its less than 5% of the rest of the ad. Quite simply – SPAM.

Even worse, this may be in violation of the law.

The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 “establishes requirements for those who send commercial email, spells out penalties for spammers and companies whose products are advertised in spam if they violate the law, and gives consumers the right to ask emailers to stop spamming them.”

Here’s a few rules that the law requires e-mailers to follow, that the LAPD neglected:

–The subject line cannot mislead the recipient about the contents or subject matter of the message – in this case, the LAPD left off a subject line entirely. Actually, it said “[Enter Subject Here]”.

–You must provide a return email address or another Internet-based response mechanism that allows a recipient to ask you not to send future email messages to that email address.
– Nope, non-existant. In fact, the bottom of the email states, ” Please do not respond to this email, replies are not monitored.”

–Commercial email be identified as an advertisement and include the sender’s valid physical postal address.
– Again, missing entirely.

While the CAN-SPAM Act is intended for commercial emailers, the LAPD used their resources to promote an event for a major corporation that it appears the LAPD has minor involvement in. Additionally, when you sign up for the E-Police Newsletter, they offer the a disclaimer promising that the system will only be used “to provide important law enforcement information to you”.

Maybe I’d be more forgiving if the E-Newsletters I signed up for were actually being sent to me, and this one just happened to slip thru. And maybe I’d be even less forgiving if they told me the email was an event notice in the subject line, but they left that part blank (actually, the subject line was: “[Enter Subject Here]”) But since this is the one of the only emails I’ve received from them after signing up to be alerted to any criminal or police activity in my neighborhood, its just annoying.

3 Replies to “Is the LAPD breaking the CAN-SPAM Law?”

  1. The email I got from them confirming my signup for the program in April said: “Through this program we will provide important information to you that is relevant to your community. Currently this program is in development and is only available to subscribers in the West Valley area. If you live in another area of Los Angeles we will store your information confidentially until E-policing is launched city-wide.”

    If this is the direction the development is taking, it’s not acceptable.

  2. Hit Post too quickly. I menat to add “So, this is probably why you haven’t gotten any real alerts.”

  3. Interesting, here in Downtown I’ve finally received my first two emails and they were not spam, instead they were a warning about vehicle break-ins.

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