If you are thinking of running a promotion to target potential customers, read on.
Below, I’ll share what you need to know to avoid spam legal trouble.
In a hurry? Jump ahead.
The Spam Act 2003 (Spam Act) sets out Australia’s spam rules.
And the rules set out when you can send out commercial electronic messages and what to include in them.
Also, the key rule to keep in mind is that you need permission or consent.
You'll need to comply with these spam rules if you (or a third party) are sending commercial electronic messages.
And, electronic means:
The spam rules apply your offer to supply, provide, advertise or solicit:
Below are the principle's you'll need to keep in mind.
Below are the key rules you’ll need to know:
Messages can only be sent with the permission of the person who owns the account for the address (usually the recipient). And recipients should be able to unsubscribe any time.
TIP: Always make sure you include an unsubscribe option. Make it easy for people to unsubscribe.
An example would be someone signing up to your mailing list.
Best practice - keep track of the sign up dates. And if you change mail service providers, make sure you download data including sign up dates before you leave your old mail service provider.
So, why keep track of your sign-ups?
Because under the Spam Act, it is up to you to prove that consent exists.
Messages must contain the name and contact details of the person or business that authorised the message (sender identification).
Recipients should not have to dig for this information - this may breach the Spam Act.
And, the information must be accurate for at least 30 days after the message is sent.
Messages must contain a low (or no cost) way for the recipient to stop getting messages (to ‘opt out’ or unsubscribe).
And, the opt-out method should be valid for at least 30 days after the message is sent.
You can’t infer permission to send commercial messages simply because a number or email address is published (such as online or in a directory).
And, if you want to infer permission this way, you'll need to ensure that:
There needs to be a strong link between the product you are promoting and the person that receives the message.
For example, you may be able to infer consent to send a message advertising your employment agency to the recruitment manager at a business, if their electronic address has been published.
However, you could not infer consent to send the recruitment manager messages about web optimisation, as this is not directly related to their role.
Messages also need to be sent to a particular employee or office holder, for example: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
If you send a message to a generic email address, like firstname.lastname@example.org, then you may risk breaching the Spam Act.
Address harvesting is banned under the Spam Act.
It's the process of automatically obtaining a large number of email addresses using a computer program or service.
And, if you purchase a list, you should be careful that the list has not been created using address-harvesting software.
You will need to ask your list supplier to make sure that the list has been obtained legally and that the people on the list have given consent.
You must not either directly or indirectly help, guide, encourage or work with another person to breach the spam rules.
Some commercial electronic messages are partially exempt from the Spam Act.
They can be sent without the permission of the recipient, and do not need to have an unsubscribe function.
Exempt messages must still comply with the sender identification rules in the Spam Act.
Factual messages: messages that do not contain commercial material; for example, a product recall notice or an appointment reminder.
Designated commercial messages: These are messages sent by exempt organisations, including registered charities, educational institutions (only if sent to current or former students), government bodies and registered political parties.
Finally, designated messages must relate to goods or services offered by the exempt organisation.