The spam act and consumers

Tips & Hints

The Spam Act is Australia's attempt to stop the flood of rubbish in our inboxes.

Posted 21 April, 2004

Consumer Unsolicited email is overwhelming our inboxes, anti-spam company Brightmail estimates that soon over 80% of all email will be spam. So we should be grateful for any attempt to slow the flow of rubbish. The Spam Act is Australia’s attempt to throttle the flood.

While anything to help control spam has to be welcomed, we must remember that less than 2% of spam originates in Australia. So the effect of the Spam Act is going to be very limited. Our advice is to continue with your existing spam handling procedures as the nature of spam and the people who send it limit the Act's effectiveness .

The first step is to determine that it has come from Australia. If it isn’t Australian, then do not do anything. Delete it and ignore it.

If it is genuinely Australian, contact the sender. If it is legitimate there will be an unsubscribe feature. We would suggest being cautious of unsubscribe features as there are lists of “opt-in” addresses available to spammers on the net. If the company doesn’t respond to your complaint, let it drop.

If you receive spam from them people a second time, then forward the details to the Australian Communications Authority.

Don’t believe that “opting out” protects you from spam. Unscrupulous traders, dishonest employees or even poor security can still get your details onto the net. While writing this article, a spam mail appeared in our inboxes advertising 100,000 opt-in mail addresses on disk. So we would recommend being very cautious about providing spammers with your email address through their "unsubscribe" options.

Brightmail estimates that over 80% of email will soon be spam. When we reach that point, the effectiveness of unsolicited email will be pretty close to zero. Coupled with more countries taking action against spammers we should see this scourge return to just being a minor nuisance. Until then, the best advice we can give you is to stop what you can using tools on your PC or from your Internet provider and ignore those that get through.

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