Australia Cracks Down on Spam
SYDNEY -- Australia's new federal antispam law has taken effect, and it's being met with some of the same concerns as the new U.S. law, notably the likelihood of nailing legitimate marketers while spammers escape.
The Federal Spam Act took effect in Australia on April 11. Companies that breach the legislation face fines of up to $169,000, or close to $1.1 million for repeat offenses.
The new Act is likely to catch some legitimate companies unaware, especially if they do not audit regularly, says Chy Chuawiwat, managing director of Clearswift Asia-Pacific.
Peter Knight, a technology lawyer and partner at firm Clayton Utz, agrees, saying some Australian businesses might violate the Act through ignorance.
He says organizations need to tread carefully, as it is a time when regulatory deterrents are being tested.
Ander Stein, another Clayton Utz lawyer and former online law and policy adviser to the federal government, recommends companies arrange network audits and an enforceable antispam policy.
"It's simply not good enough to have a policy just sitting there. You have to think, what am I doing to educate people about this policy and what am I doing to enforce this policy," Stein says. "Regulators will want to see that the policy has been enforced."
Mike Sadler, OzEmail product development and research director, says not only should companies pay attention to what is or isn't allowed by the Spam Act, they should also be sure their e-mail reaches its intended destinations.
"Delivery assurance is the number-one issue for business users this year," Sadler says. "It's one thing to know what is or isn't allowed by the Spam Act, but it could be an entirely different thing knowing what various gateway operators might classify as unwanted."
Sadler suggests businesses take a range of steps to ensure e-mail gets through. He recommends steps such as providing an unsubscribe facility, maintaining contact lists, using a properly set up mail server, and avoiding spam-like content.
"Businesses should be really concerned that they know the message is getting through, and if it doesn't, what steps they can take to rectify the issues," he adds. "Include contacts other than e-mail, and make the mail very traceable to ensure it gets through to the contact."
The Australian Computer Society has released a booklet of steps on how Australian businesses can become compliant with the Spam Act.
The ACS assembled a team of legal and ICT industry experts to provide simple, cost-effective guidelines for the new legislation.
One of the principal recommendations is for businesses to confirm permission with potential e-mail recipients--rather than leaving any ambiguity as to whether consent has been granted or whether the message is factual or commercial.