The Spam Act 2003 prohibits the sending of ‘unsolicited commercial electronic messages’ with an 'Australian link'. A message has an Australian link if it originates or was commissioned in Australia, or originates overseas but was sent to an address accessed in Australia.
The Spam Act is based around three key conditions or rules that govern the sending of all commercial electronic messages. All commercial electronic messages must meet the following conditions:
- consent – the message must be sent with the recipient's consent. The recipient may give express consent, or under certain circumstances consent may be inferred from their conduct or an existing business or other relationships
- identify – the message must contain accurate information about the person or organisation that authorised the sending of the message and how to contact them
- unsubscribe – the message must contain a functional 'unsubscribe' facility to allow the recipient to opt out from receiving messages from that source in the future. The unsubscribe requests must be honoured within five working days.
For more information, see ensuring that you don't spam.
The Act and the accompanying regulations are available online at:
- Spam Act 2003
- Spam (Consequential Amendments) Act 2003 (now consolidated into the Telecommunications Act 1997)
- Spam Regulations 2004
The Spam Act defines a commercial electronic message as any electronic message that:
- offers, advertises or promotes the supply of goods, services, land or business or investment opportunities
- advertises or promotes a supplier of goods, services, land or a provider of business or investment opportunities
- assists a person to dishonestly obtain property, commercial advantage or other gain from another person.
The Act classifies an electronic message as ‘commercial' by considering:
- the content of the message
- the way in which the message is presented
- any links, phone numbers or contact information in the message that lead to content that has a commercial purpose - as these may also lead the message to be defined as 'commercial' in nature.
More information is available in the fact sheet about commercial electronic messages.