Federal Internet Law & Policy
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E-Government: Congressional Internet Rules Dont be a FOOL; The Law is Not DIY
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Congress gets free mail privileges under the Franking Privilege. If you had not noticed, the informative “I feel your pain” letters from your legislature usually lack stamps on them. However, 90 days prior to an election, members of Congress are not permitted to utilize their Franking privilege. In other words, the incumbent is not permitted to unfairly campaign using free junk mail.

BUT! But taking advantages of the wonders of the Information Age, they can SPAM you! Prior to the 90 days, Congress can enlighten you freely using email. After that 90 day period, a member of congress can continue to enlighten you using email if you have opted into receiving email from that member of congress - unsolicited email does, however, have to stop. [Deal Colleague]


  • Committee on House Administration, The Franking Manual (Red Book), Chapter Four: Election Year Mailing Restrictions
  • Dear Colleague Letter, Updated E-mail Policy Related to Subscriber Lists (Sept. 8, 2003):
  • Subscribed E-mail updates

    A subscribed e-mail update is an e-mail sent to constituents who have individually subscribed to an e-mail list. Members must notify constituents who subscribe to e-mail updates that the constituent is authorizing the Member to send regular e-mail updates from the Member’s office to the person’s e-mail account. All e-mail updates to subscribers must contain an option that enables the constituent to unsubscribe from the e-mail list. Members may send subscribed e-mail updates without obtaining an advisory opinion.

    Non-subscribed E-mail updates

    If each e-mail address used in a mass communication was not obtained with consent for subscribed e-mail updates, then the Member must receive a Franking Advisory prior to the distribution of the mass communication.


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