Spam Via Family And Friends Referrals Remains Illegal

SpamSampleYou probably don't feel like much ever gets done about spam, other than your preferred email client whisking it away into the spam folder. However, email sent by Australian businesses that contravenes the guidelines of the Spam Act 2003 can get those businesses into trouble, and this week has seen another example.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has issued a formal warning to online store Topbuy for sending unsolicited commercial email (that's spam to you and me). Part of Topbuy's defence was that some of the addresses had been collected as part of a "family and friends" referral campaign. However, that's not permitted as a means of gathering addresses in Australia, as chairman Chris Chapman explained:

Many businesses try to acquire clients through referrals from family and friends, but this is simply not allowed under the specific opt-in marketing provisions of the Spam Act. Consent to receive commercial electronic messages can only be given by the relevant electronic account-holder—the person responsible for that account—and not by another person. It’s just not acceptable.

Since Topbuy co-operated with ACMA in the investigation, it received a formal warning rather than a fine. The incident serves as a useful reminder that complaining about spam can be worthwhile if it originates in Australia; you can lodge complaints at the ACMA site.

Online retailer Topbuy breaches Spam Act by sending emails to consumers without consent [ACMA]


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