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SPAM act bites


SPAM act bites


The email marketing channel is taken very seriously by Australian regulators. If you are in any doubt about this, take a look at the list of “enforceable undertakings” from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) against companies it deems to have breached the 2003 Spam Act.

I am not familiar with the individual cases, nor do I wish to comment upon them. These matters are always complex. However, what is clear is that any company engaging in email or mobile marketing in Australia must be vigilant to ensure compliance with all regulation in the space. As data privacy continues to grow as a public issue, there are many reasons to take this issue seriously. Besides the risk of penalties, breaching regulations risks undermining the relationship companies have worked hard to build with their customers.

Whether you are a small business or a large enterprise, the 2003 Spam Act is clear on its compliance to regulations. The three steps which you cannot ignore are Consent, Identification and Unsubscribe – these are golden.

This is not legal advice, but based on many years of experience working closely with ACMA and Australian companies to promote responsible usage of email and other digital marketing channels, I can offer the following insights:

Companies that repeatedly ignore requests from ACMA risk action. However, prosecution is typically seen as a last resort, with a preference for collaboration to resolve issues rather than a legal or punitive action.

• The onus is on company management to understand the relevant processes and policies, so ‘plausible deniability,’ such as “my provider handles that” is not generally considered acceptable

• Compliance is a joint effort between a company and its provider (if it has one). Responsys, like most providers, is dedicated to fully-compliant processes and practices. However, there are elements of the marketing program outside of the providers’ control so, in these areas, responsibility remains with the company.

In almost all cases where companies were found to be in breach in the Spam Act, the team or individuals managing the program in question have been unaware of their responsibilities and obligations, indicating additional training and education may be necessary.

It is, therefore, important that every company invests in personnel who are familiar with and responsible for managing compliance with the Spam Act and Privacy Principles. I also suggest senior management understand the components, process and importance of managing customer data and processes such as opt in, unsubscribe and the company’s ‘reputation’ with ISPs and that unsubscribe metrics are reported and understood.

If you are not familiar with the Spam Act, you can download a practical guide here:

Or for more details online, visit ACMA:

If you have an email program associated with your customer communications then it’s time to raise its profile and importance. As companies move from print to online the importance of the customer remains central or, if anything, elevated.

As email becomes a mainstream marketing channel, companies must address the technology, people and processes around how these email programs work.


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