Consent is everybody's business | ACMA

Consent is everybody's business

A recent investigation by the Australian Communications and Media Authority into business loan company, AUSvance LLC, has highlighted potential pitfalls when using a list of email addresses purchased from a third party for marketing purposes.

The ACMA investigated AUSvance after receiving complaints from people who had received marketing messages from it. Although the company that sold AUSvance the email address list claimed that the list was ‘opt-in’ and ‘verified’, AUSvance did not seek proof of those claims.  Subsequently, it was unable to demonstrate it had the consent of recipients to send them marketing messages.

 As a result of the ACMA’s investigation, AUSvance has paid a $10,200 Infringement Notice. It has also stopped using the purchased list.

‘This is a common story for marketers,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman. ‘Ultimately, sending marketing messages with consent is the responsibility of the business sending the message. Businesses need to make sure they have done their due diligence.’

The ACMA’s most recent e-marketing blog gives more information about what questions to ask when considering purchasing an e-marketing list.

If you receive a promotional email you believe may not comply with the Spam Act, you can report it to the ACMA by forwarding the message to You can also forward spam SMS to the Spam SMS service on 0429 999 888.

To opt out of receiving telemarketing calls and marketing faxes you can sign up to the ACMA’s Do Not Call Register [link] by calling 1300 792 958 or visiting

For more information, please see the Backgrounder below, or to arrange an interview, please contact: Blake Murdoch, on (02) 9334 7817, 0434 567 391 or

Media release 59/2014 - 23 September




The Spam Act 2003 regulates unsolicited commercial electronic messages in Australia. Commercial electronic messages can be emails, SMS messages, MMS messages, instant messaging messages or any other similar messages.

The Act sets out that commercial electronic messages must have the following features:

>      Consent - it must be sent with the recipient's consent. They may give express consent, or consent may be inferred from their conduct and 'existing business or other relationships'

>      Identify - it must contain clear and accurate information about the person or organisation that authorised the sending of the message

>      Unsubscribe - it must contain a functional 'unsubscribe' facility to allow the recipient to opt out from receiving message from that source in the future.

The Spam Act provides a range of enforcement options and the ACMA determines an appropriate action on a case-by-case basis. Formal warnings are used by the ACMA to indicate concerns about alleged contraventions and allow for the business or individual to take compliance action to prevent any future contraventions.

Enforceable undertakings can be offered to the ACMA at any time and provide the opportunity for a business or individual to formalise its commitment to compliance with the Spam Act. The ACMA may also give an infringement notice in relation to particular civil penalty provisions. In addition, the ACMA can lodge proceedings in the Federal Court, including seeking an injunction. The legislation sets out penalties of up to $1.1 million a day for repeat corporate offenders.


Last updated: 11 December 2014