What is spam?

Don't be part of a growing problem

  • It's very likely that you have experienced the inconvenience, and more, of receiving spam, but did you know that you could be inadvertently sending spam too?
  • If you have sent an email, or text message, containing some type of commercial offer to someone who has not given you prior consent to do so (and it doesn't have to be more than one person), then it is possible that you have committed an illegal act.

The Spam Act 2003

The Spam Act 2003 is legislation enacted by the Australian government to reduce the volume of unwanted commercial e-mail, SMS, MMS, and Instant Messages affecting Australia. You can read the full text of the Act.

What the Spam Act 2003 classifies as spam:

Under the Spam Act 2003, any unsolicited message that references a commercial offer or opportunity would be classified as spam – even if the electronic message is sent to only one recipient.

Sending unsolicited messages

Sending of unsolicited commercial electronic messages is prohibited under the Act, unless the recipient has consented to receiving such messages from the sender.

The Act therefore prohibits the use of e-mail address harvesting software, or of any lists produced using such software – even if the lists were procured from a third party.

Where the recipient has consented to receiving such messages, the Act permits sending unsolicited messages only if they include:

An example of a commercial e-mail

A unit of the University is planning to deliver a chargeable public seminar, either independently or jointly in association with a commercial organisation and/or industry body. It decides to publicise the seminar through several channels, including a mailing list of target attendees external to the University. The University unit may have compiled the mailing list itself, or obtained it from a third party supplier, such as an industry body.

To avoid any perception of University ‘spamming’, and possible breach of the Spam Act 2003, those managing the mailing list must ensure that,

  • the mailing list has not been compiled using web address harvesting software.
  • the University’s anti-spam guidelines will be complied with.