What is spam? Are you pushing your luck?

 Just lately the issue of what actually constitutes ‘spam’ has been raising its head.

The background to this is that in addition to printed publications we provide a service of creating electronic publications.

In dispatching them for clients we have incurred accusations of sending out ‘spam’ because several clients included people on their mailing lists who were not current customers.

There were complaints. This was despite having the option of ‘unsubscribe’.


According to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) to avoid being viewed as ‘spam’ all commercial electronic messages must meet the following conditions:

We quote:

“consent – the message must be sent with the recipient’s consent. The recipient may give express consent, or under certain circumstances, consent may be inferred from their conduct or an existing business or other relationship

“identify – the message must contain accurate information about the person or organisation authorising the sending of the message and how to contact them
unsubscribe – the message must contain a functional unsubscribe facility to allow the recipient to opt-out of receiving messages from that source in the future.”

If a message does not meet these requirements, it can be considered ‘spam’ with a penalty up to $1.1 million per day”.
(Just as a matter of interest, this fine has been applied to at least one company that we know of).


Many companies send material to existing and former clients assuming it is OK to do so, especially as they provide the ‘unsubscribe’ facility. Be warned this is not sufficent.

You might not be open to a fine on the basis of breeching the Privacy Act but if a client or former client takes umbrage, or feels mischievous, all they have to do is register what you have sent as ‘spam’ with the service provider and you’re in trouble. Furthermore, they need not register with you that they’re unhappy to receive it.

All they have to do is register that what you’re sending is ‘spam’ with the carrier such as Constant Contact or MailChimp and you can be put off air.

We were offline for two days as a result of our client having a couple of disgruntled former clients on the mailing list.

  1. Christian Reply

    Thanks for the comments guys. :)I don’t think nsltweeters are for every business but there’s definitely a market there. For certain products and/or services, or demographics, having a blog (for all their benefits) may not be that useful. Having a newsletter to communicate with customers and prospective customers can still work well.

  2. Details Reply

    I loved your blog post.Really looking forward to read more. Will read on…

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