Legislation & enforcement | ACMA

Legislation & enforcement

The ACMA is responsible for enforcing the Spam Act 2003.

The Spam Act 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.

The Spam Act covers emails, mobile phone text messages (SMS), multimedia messaging (MMS) and instant messaging (iM) and other electronic messages of a commercial nature. However, the Act does not cover voice or fax telemarketing. Telemarketing calls and faxes are covered by the Do Not Call Register.

The ACMA can take any of the following actions for breaches of the Spam Act:

  • issue a formal warning
  • accept an enforceable undertaking from a person or company—these undertakings usually contain a formal commitment to comply with specific requirements of the Spam Act. A failure to abide by an undertaking can lead to the ACMA applying for an order in the Federal Court.
  • issue infringement notices
  • seek an injunction from the Federal Court to stop a person sending spam
  • prosecute a person in the Federal Court.

Penalties of up to $1.8 million a day apply to repeat corporate offenders. The penalty units referred to in the Spam Act are equal to $180 each. For example the penalty under section 25(5)(b) of the Spam Act for a company with a previous record of spamming and who sent two or more spam messages on a given day without consent is a maximum fine of 10,000 penalty units. This equates to a maximum penalty of $1,800,000.

Detailed information on breaches and penalties is set out in the Spam Act.

The ACMA’s enforcement actions

Find out about recent enforcement action the ACMA has taken in the enforcement action section. The media releases section also offers detailed information about the ACMA’s activities.


Last updated: 05 October 2016