Recently the Israeli Knesset enacted a new anti-spam amendment. The amendment relates to the existing prohibition  against the transmission of advertisements via facsimile, computerized autodialer ("robocall"), e-mail or SMS without the addressee "opting in" by expressing, prior written consent (commonly known as "spam" or "junk mail"). The amendment now includes in such prohibition any advertisement disseminated to the public at large that asks for a contribution or that constitutes non-commercial propaganda.

However, the above prohibition shall not apply to requests for 'contributions' that are within the realm of political contributions for the purpose of contending in primaries pursuant to the Political Parties Law, in elections for the Knesset and in elections to head a local authority or as part of a list of candidates for a local authority. The prohibition shall not apply to the dissemination of "propaganda" containing political messages, including election propaganda, but shall apply to the dissemination of interviews that seek to influence positions or behavior.

The legislative amendment also prescribes that 'advertisements' sent solely via e-mail by non-profit organizations or public-benefit companies for the purpose of requesting contributions or disseminating non-commercial messages shall not constitute violations of the anti-spam legislation, provided that the addressee has not refused to accept such advertisements in one of the ways prescribed in the law.

This means that non-profit organizations and public-benefit companies are now allowed to send e-mails requesting contributions or disseminating non-commercial propaganda (according to the definitions of these terms as stated above) even without receiving prior consent, as long as the addressee has not instructed them that he/she is opting out and does not wish to receive such e-mails. As stated, this is permitted solely via e-mail and not via other means of communications specified in the law (fax, SMS, robocalls).

As for robocalls (which now also include 'propaganda' and requests for contributions), the legislative amendment adds that, if the advertisement is via robocall, the advertiser must advise recipients at the beginning of the call that they may ask that their names be removed from the advertiser's distribution list and must immediately enable them to also unsubscribe themselves by pressing a character on their phone.

Originally published August 31, 2016

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