Spam Act 2003

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Spam Act 2003
Coat of Arms of Australia.svg
Parliament of Australia
An Act about spam, and for related purposes
Citation Spam Act 2003 (Cth)
Enacted by House of Representatives
Enacted by Senate
Date assented to 12 December 2003
Date commenced 12 December 2003
Legislative history
Bill introduced in the House of Representatives Spam Bill 2003
Bill citation Spam Bill 2003 (Cth)
Bill published on 18 September 2003
Introduced by Peter McGauran
Related legislation
Telecommunications Act 1997
Status: In force

The Spam Act 2003 was passed in 2003 as federal legislation by the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia. The first portions of the act came into effect on 12 December 2003, the day the act received Royal Assent, with all remaining sections of the act coming into force on 10 April 2004.

Its purpose is to set up a scheme for the regulation of commercial e-mail and other types of commercial electronic messages[disambiguation needed]. It restricts spam, especially e-mail spam and some types of phone spam, as well as e-mail address harvesting, however there are broad exemptions. It is enforced by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).


The key points of the act provide that:

  • Unsolicited commercial electronic messages must not be sent unless it is a designated commercial electronic message defined at Schedule 1 of the act.
  • Commercial electronic messages must include information about the individual or organisation who authorised the sending of the message.
  • Commercial electronic messages must contain a functional unsubscribe facility.
  • Address‑harvesting software must not be supplied, acquired or used.
  • An electronic address list produced using address‑harvesting software must not be supplied, acquired or used.
  • The main remedies for breaches of this Act are civil penalties and injunctions.

Significant Cases[edit]

Australian Communications Authority v Clarity1 Pty Ltd ABN 60 106 529 604 & Anor[edit]

[2006] FCA 410

This case has potentially created some significant case law which may aid future actions under the act. In his ruling on the case, Hon Justice Robert Nicholson AO looked at the key defence of the respondent in the matter, being retrospective application of provisions under the act relating to the acquisition and use of harvested address lists. His ruling in the matter noted specifically that lists gathered or acquired prior to the act coming into force are still subject to the legislation. It also clearly struck down the respondent's defence that he had obtained consent to use the gathered addresses for the defined purpose, and also noted a lack of compliance with the provisions of the act requiring the provision of a functional unsubscribe facility.

The Australian Communications Authority is now called the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

External links[edit]