One click or press of a button and your product, service, land or investment or business opportunity can appear in the hands of as many people as you can find contact details for. It is a tempting thought, but you should be aware of the laws which govern what you can and can’t do when it comes to spam advertising before you do it – the penalties are not light.

On the back of what can only be described as the abuse of electronic communications by individuals and corporations looking to promote their business or sell their products, services or land, the Australian government introduced the Spam Act 2003 (Cth) (‘the Act’). Generally speaking, the Act prohibits the sending of unsolicited commercial electronic messages and gives its regulators, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), the power to issue fines in excess of $1 million to entities that are found to be in breach of the Act’s provisions.

As small business owners, you should be aware of what conduct is prohibited under the Act. First and foremost, it is in breach of the provisions of the Act to send any form commercial electronic communication to someone without that person’s prior consent. This applies to all material sent via SMS, email, MMS or instant message.

Consent can either be given expressly by the person, ie by the person subscribing to your mailing list or requesting to receive correspondence from you, or inferred from surrounding circumstances, ie by you having an existing business relationship with the person, or that person publically listing their email without providing a disclaimer that they will not accept unsolicited messages.

The AMCA has investigative powers and will utilise these powers to closely examine the content of a message in order to determine whether the message is a ‘commercial electronic message’. In doing so, the AMCA will look at what is contained in the message and the way it is presented, and will scrutinize any links, phone numbers, or contact information that they find in the message itself.

If you are after more information in relation to the above contact The Quinn Group. We can provide advice and assistance on a range of small business issues. Call us on 02 9223 9166 or visit www.quinns.com.au to submit an online enquiry.