Changes to the Spam Act in Australia

Recently and quietly, there was a major change in the Spam Act (specifically the Spam Regulations 2021 under the Spam Act) that took effect from April 1st, 2021 in order to provide more clarity around the “unsubscribe” component of the existing laws.

Why was this change needed?

Prior to this change, the Spam Act required senders to have an “easy” unsubscribe when opting out. Given that such wording can end up with a whole variety of interpretations, this change mandates organizations sending commercial electronic messages must make it straightforward for recipients to “unsubscribe”.

Additionally, the change is a response to mounting concern and frustration from consumers that are reporting difficult and/or complicated processes businesses put in place to make unsubscribing more difficult, rather than less. With these changes, all parties involved are set to benefit as it provides greater clarity and certainty.

Changes to the Spam Act in Australia

What are the specifics?

With this update, when someone receives a commercial electronic message and makes an “unsubscribe” request via the options provided to use in the message, they should not be required to:

  • Provide further personal information; 
  • Use a premium service;
  • Log into or create an account; or
  • Pay a fee or charge to the sender or a related person (with some exceptions).

One other update with this change is that fax messages are specifically excluded from the definition of “commercial electronic messages” by the regulations as it is covered by other legislation that contains provisions prohibiting marketing faxes from being sent to numbers registered on the Do Not Call Register.

So what’s next?

This change provides increased clarity in the regulations and will no doubt be welcomed by ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) as it gives them greater leverage when investigating and taking enforcement actions.

As for senders, now is definitely an excellent opportunity and we strongly recommend that all senders revise not just their unsubscribe processes, but the entire email marketing program as well. Whilst you may not find any issues, knowing that you are compliant with the Spam Act leaves you with a sense of safety, as failure to comply with the Spam Act will result in hefty fines as recently imposed on a well-known business.

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