It’s happened to me a few times now – I’ve had newsletters from various places turn up in my inbox and I think to myself “I don’t remember signing up for that”. Most of the time I put it down to my poor memory for these things and if I decide I don’t want to read the newsletter I unsubscribe.
But a newsletter came to me recently that I know I didn’t subscribe to. It was from a business owner I had fleeting contact with via an event I was on the organising committee for. I had not been asked during our contact whether I wanted to be signed up – the business owner just signed me up to their mailing list.
It’s worth pointing out if you have a mailing list – and these days most businesses do! – it is against Australia’s privacy and anti-spam legislation to sign someone up for your newsletter without their consent.
The government put out a Practical Guide to the Spam Act for business which you can download here.
Businesses in breach of the Spam Act can face court-imposed penalties of up to $220,000 for a single day’s contraventions. After that the fine can go up to $1.1 million.
There are three steps businesses should follow in order to comply with the Spam Act:
Only send commercial messages when you have consent – either express consent or inferred consent (based on your relationship with the person).
Your commercial message should clearly identify who is responsible for sending the message and how they can be contacted.
All commercial electronic messages must contain a functional unsubscribe facility allowing people to opt out from receiving future messages. And the request MUST be honoured.
These rules even apply to OLD contact lists. You must be sure you have either express or inferred consent from everyone on your contact list that you can send them commercial messages.
The legislation also bans the use of address-harvesting software and harvested address lists – however lists generated manually (eg by viewing websites) are not prohibited. If you purchase a distribution list you must be sure that consent has been obtained from each address on the list before commercial messages are sent.
In addition to the Spam Act you should also ensure you comply with the provisions of the National Privacy Principles. You’ll find more information about NPP at the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.
©Lyn Prowse-Bishop – www.execstress.com