Sending emails: Are you breaking the law?

- February 24, 2015 2 MIN READ

Email ignorance can cost you dearly.  To stay on the right side of the Australian Spam Act, consider these three things.

1. Do you have consent?

There are two different types of consent:

  1. Express Consent
  2. Inferred Consent

Express Consent

Express Consent is the clearest form of consent, which involves asking people to do one of the following:

  • Enter their email address on a web form
  • Enter their email address in a promotion or some other type of marketing
  • Tick a box on a form specifically to receive newsletters

The person is then expressly giving you their consent to receive emails (newsletters), and this prevents your emails from being tagged as spam and incurring a possible fine.

Inferred Consent

Inferred consent is a little trickier.  The following quote is taken from ACMA:  “If an email address is published conspicuously then this is inferred consent.”

This means the email address must be published on:

  • A brochure
  • A website
  • The yellow pages
  • LinkedIn, Facebook
  • Some other publicly accessible place

However, if you would like to send emails to this person, you must be aware of the law. You are within the law if your email is “directly related to the principal role or function of the recipient”.

For example, if you are a children’s clothing manufacturer, and you send an email to the owner of a children’s boutique regarding your products (having sourced the email address from their website), this is not spam.  Their address was published in the public domain, and your product is directly related to their business.

2. Include the right details

To prevent yourself from unknowingly sending spam mail, the recipient must be able to identify who the sender is, including the following business details:

  • Your business name
  • Your business email address
  • Possibly the physical address or website address of your company

3. Add an unsubscribe option

You must include a simple way for the email recipient to unsubscribe. Instructions should be easy to find and easy to follow. For example, an ‘unsubscribe’ link in your email is a suitable way to make it easy for the reader to get off your list.

If you do receive an unsubscribe request, make sure you add the email address to your ‘Do Not Mail’ list. Don’t delete them because it can be easy to accidently add them back in the future.

Follow these three simple rules and you’ll stay within the Australia’s spam laws. For more information visit ACMA.

What are your thoughts on this topic?