Key elements of the Spam Act | ACMA

Key elements of the Spam Act

The Spam Act 2003 prohibits the sending of unsolicited commercial electronic messages—known as spam—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.


What is a commercial message?

The Spam Act 2003 defines a commercial electronic message as:

  • 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

  • helps a person 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 the message is presented

  • any links, phone numbers or contact information in the message that leads to content with a commercial purpose—as these may also lead the message to be defined as 'commercial' in nature.


What messages can be sent without consent?

Certain messages from the following types of organisations:

  • government bodies

  • registered charities

  • registered political parties

  • educational institutions (for messages sent to current and former students).

Read more about message exemptions here.


Helpful resources

All about spam


Inferred consent

Mandatory unsubscribe

Sender identification 


Last updated: 17 December 2012