Australia’s Anti-Spam Act or Legislation (Spam Laws or Spam Control Act)

September 4, 2023    Civillawyers
Australia’s Anti-Spam Act or Legislation (Spam Laws or Spam Control Act)

Australia’s Spam Act 2003 (Spam Act) and Spam Regulations 2021 govern sending SMS and email marketing messages.

Designed to protect and safeguard Australians from getting spam messages, the Spam Act limits who you can communicate to and what the commercial electronic message must contain.

Consult the best internet lawyer in Perth to guarantee your marketing programme complies with the Anti-Spam Act and other applicable regulations.

Overview of The Spam Control Act & Regulations in Australia

The sending of all CEMs is subject to regulation under the Spam Act, including:

  • Instant messages
  • Email
  • SMS and MMS

The Spam Control Act’s three primary conditions for transmitting communications are as follows:

  • Get the necessary consent.
  • Identify yourself and give your contact information.
  • Include a way for users to opt out of receiving messages.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority holds the right and power to penalise Australians who violate the Spam Control Act. The authority can impose up to $220,000 as a fine for a single violation or $2.1 million for repeated ones.

Read also – Cyber Law and Regulations for Social Media

Spam Act 2003: Learn Its Background

A federal law known as the Spam Act of 2003 went into full effect on April 10, 2004, after partially taking effect in 2003. The ACMA is in charge of enforcing it. Since its creation, the original Act hasn’t been modified.

Australians got clarification on the Act’s provision upon the release of the Spam Regulations in 2004. The regulations outlined how the provisions apply under Australia’s statutory framework. The Spam Regulations of 2021 replaced these and revoked them.

The new regulations strengthen the original measures’ practical application.

How To Comply With The Spam Control Act?

Do you have permission to send a marketing email campaign? You should consider the following three stages when assessing your business procedures and the substance of your promotional messages to ensure you abide by the Spam Act:


Sending commercial electronic messages only with the addressee’s express or implied consent is allowed.


Provide accurate and detailed information about the person or company in charge of sending the commercial electronic message.


A functional unsubscribe option should be present in all your business electronic messages. Respond to requests to unsubscribe quickly.

Things To Consider For The Anti-Spam Act 2003

The Act Forbids The Use of Address Harvesting Software

The Spam Act of 2003 outlaws address harvesting software in its entirety. This software “crawls” websites in search of email addresses and then gathers them to create mailing lists.

The Anti-Spam Act forbids the acquisition, supply, or use of such software and the acquisition, supply, or use of mailing lists generated by such software. Whether someone whose address is on the list has given you express permission or implied permission, you are still prohibited from doing so.

Note that the Act does not forbid purchasing address lists obtained through methods other than address harvesting software. However, you still ensure you have their express or implied consent to email them, so using bought lists might not be viable.

Read More – Types of Internet Frauds

General Behaviour

The Spam Act of 2003’s regulations have a broad scope. You cannot, for example, assist or encourage someone to breach the law and then claim you didn’t exactly break the law yourself.

Privacy Act

Due to their inherent processing of personal data, including the recipient’s email address, most commercial electronic messages are also subject to Australia’s Privacy Act. Confusion might result from the Privacy Act’s opt-out rather than opt-in permission for direct marketing.

However, in actuality, there is no incompatibility between the two statutes. You cannot send a commercial electronic message to a person without their express or implied consent, even if you have lawfully collected their personal information and hold the authority to leverage it for direct marketing.

Although some participants proposed a “bundled consent mechanism,” you now need separate, specific consent under each of the two laws: the Privacy Act, which governs the collection and use of data, and the Spam Act, which governs the sending of communications.

Spam Act 2003: Best Practices For Sending CEMs

The following are best practices for sending CEMs to Australia, even though the Spam Act does not specifically require them:

  • Put a minimum of one link to your website in the text.
  • Send SMS and direct messages from 9 AM till 8 PM local time to the recipient; Use silent hours for flows to stop automated SMS sending outside certain times.
  • Avoid using terms like “free money” or other commonly used spam-related phrases in your email subject lines or messages.
  • Offer something of value; if a CEM is not beneficial to the recipient, subscribers will probably unsubscribe.
  • Don’t send recipients too many messages; instead, utilise Smart Sending to limit the number of times they can receive messages through a certain channel.

Possible Penalties For Violating The Spam Act 2003

The 2003 Spam Act gives the ACMA the authority to conduct several actions against violators. Bringing financial penalties before a federal court is the most serious option. Like many Australian statutes, the maximum punishment is expressed as many “penalty units.”

Each penalty unit, for instance, has a different dollar value over time to account for inflation. The maximum penalty varies depending on your status as an individual or a company (a “body corporate”), the rule you broke, and whether or not this is your first penalty under the Act. The total fines levied for violations on the same day are also capped.

Given this, an organisation with multiple violations registered on the same day will be considered a repeat offender and subject to the highest fine. The severest punishment in this situation would be 10,000 penalty units or AU$ 2.2 million at the time of writing.

Final Words:

Beyond simply legal repercussions, breaking the Spam Act can have several negative effects. Besides fines and penalties, your account will be closed by your email service provider if your emails frequently attract unsubscribe requests and spam complaints.

If that’s the case, you cannot send emails any further to anyone, even not to the ones who genuinely seek them. So, consult one of the best Internet Lawyers in Perth to understand and ensure compliance, know the boundary between express and implied consent, and more.

With our team of expert Civil Lawyers Perth WA specialising in Internet laws, all your email marketing problems will be gone! Book a consultation now!

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