Understanding spam | ACMA

Understanding spam

Spam is junk mail that gets sent to you email and phone. It usually comes in the form of advertising messages or attempts to trick users into providing bank account details.

If a message doesn’t meet the following criteria, it can be defined as spam:

  • It must be sent with your consent.

  • It must have accurate information about the person or organisation that sent it.

  • It must have a functional ‘unsubscribe’ facility so you can opt out of receiving messages.

Australia’s anti-spam legislation—the Spam Act 2003covers email, instant messaging, SMS (text messages) and MMS (image-based mobile phone messaging) messages of a commercial nature. It does not cover faxes, internet pop-ups or voice telemarketing. Telemarketing calls are covered by the Do Not Call Register.

The ACMA and spam


  • provides you with information on how to reduce the amount of spam you receive
  • advises organisations on how to meet the requirements of the Spam Act and avoid sending spam
  • informs internet service providers (ISPs) about their obligations under the Spam Act
  • investigates potential contraventions of the Spam Act.

Here are some fact sheets for download:

Last updated: 13 October 2016