Many of us, have from time to time, received unsolicited emails or other messages from unknown sources, or businesses keen to advertise an event or product through content marketing. It is important to note however that in Australia, legislation known as the Spam Act 2003 (Cth) ("the Spam Act") sets out rules relating to spam messages, including information relevant to senders as well as receivers of such messages. This is discussed in more detail in our recent article below:

As an update to the above article, recent penalties issued by the Australian Communications and Media Authority ("ACMA") for breaches of the Spam Act, highlight the importance for businesses of ensuring compliance with this legislation.

These include:

  • In July 2020, Woolworths Group Limited paid an infringement notice of $1,003,800 (the largest issued by ACMA) and agreed to a court-enforceable undertaking, as a result of breaches of the Spam Act. ACMA found that more than five million breaches of the Spam Act had occurred when Woolworths sent marketing emails to consumers after they had unsubscribed from previous messages. The court-enforceable undertaking included appointing an independent consultant to review its systems, processes and procedures, to implement improvements, to report to ACMA, as well as undertake training1.
  • In January 2021, ACMA found that Kogan Australia Pty Ltd ("Kogan") had breached the Spam Act, by sending more than 42 million marketing emails to consumers from which they could not easily unsubscribe. Instead, consumers were required to take additional steps by setting up a password and logging into a Kogan account. ACMA found that this conduct breached the Spam Act, which requires commercial electronic messages to contain a functional unsubscribe facility2. Kogan accordingly paid $310,800 (infringement notice) and agreed to a three year court-enforceable undertaking, which included requirements to appoint an independent consultant to review its systems, processes and procedures and to implement any recommendations from the review, to train staff responsible for sending marketing messages and to regularly report to ACMA on actions taken in relation to consumer complaints3.
  • In March 2021, marketing company Telco First (trading as Compare with Us) paid a $79,800 infringement notice after ACMA found it had sent more than 65,000 illegal spam text messages. Telco First also made court-enforceable commitments to ACMA to appoint an independent consultant to review its spam compliance measures4.



2 Spam Act 2003 (Cth), Section 18.



The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.