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The Spam Act and business

The new Spam Act won't do much to stop the flood of spam, but businesses need to be aware of the new rules and penalties.

Updated 26 April 2004

Email is essential to most business. Were it not for email, most businesses probably wouldnít have bothered getting connected to the net.

The attraction of email is that it is quick, cheap and easy. It is so cheap that bulk advertisers can send millions of junk emails, or spam, for almost nothing. Once upon a time spam was just a nuisance, but now over 60% of emails are spam and that is costing businesses time and money.

In response to the waste of time and money, the Australian government introduced the Spam Act.

While the penalties for breaching the act can be expensive, there are three simple rules to follow;

1. Get Consent This is the most uncertain part of the new law. Some legal opinion is that just having your email address on your business card is enough to imply consent. Other opinion is that just because a customer has provided you with their email address it does not mean they have agreed to receive your emails.

The consensus of expert opinion is that itís best to contact everybody on your email list and get them to confirm they want your emails. Look at it as an opportunity to clean up your mail lists.

In one respect this is the most difficult part of the spam act for businesses. Basically it robs us of the ability to use email as a means of reaching new customers. Sadly, the sheer level of spam in most peopleís inboxes probably means email as marketing tool to new customers was devalued anyway.

2. Identify This one is easy. Your email has to clearly identify you or your business. As a legitimate business, youíve always done this, havenít you?

3. Unsubscribe All commercial emails must have an unsubscribe option. Include one at the end of your email. Either have a stand alone address to deal with unsubscribe requests or configure your list program to do it automatically.

Less than two percent of spam comes from Australia so the Spam Act isnít going to have a great impact on the amount of rubbish that comes into our inboxes, but at least it is a start.

The Australian Communication Authority has a brochure detailing the requirements of the act, The Australian Computer Society suggests five points.

We recommend that if you communicate to customers or prospects by email you need to download and keep a copy of these brochures.

 

 
 


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