What anti-spam law means for businesses

The Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007 prohibits the sending of spam with a New Zealand link (i.e. messages sent to, from, or within New Zealand).

The Act refers to spam as 'unsolicited commercial electronic messages'. The Act covers email, fax, instant messaging, and mobile/smart phone text (TXT).

It does NOT cover Internet pop-ups or telemarketing such as phone calls.

Businesses must comply with the Act

Businesses must ensure they do not send spam.

Failure to comply could mean a fine of up to $500,000.

What we mean by commercial electronic messages

An electronic message is considered spam only if it is commercial in nature - for instance marketing or promoting goods, services, land, an interest in land, an investment opportunity or including a link to the afore mentioned categories. A single message may be spam. The message does not need to be sent or received in bulk.

It is important to note that providing a hyperlink to a company web page in the signature of an otherwise non-commercial email would make it a commercial electronic message.

There are however a number of commercial electronic messages that can be sent legitimately. Please refer to the information below and, for the full definitions, section 6 of the Act.

Which messages are not commercial electronic messages?

The Act provides that the following common messages between organisations and clients/customers are not commercial electronic messages:

  • Responses to a request for a quote or estimate
  • Messages that facilitate, complete or confirm a commercial transaction that the recipient previously agreed to
  • Warranty information, product recalls and safety and security information about goods or services used or purchased by the recipient
  • Factual information about a subscription, membership, account, loan or similar ongoing relationship
  • Information directly related to employment or a related benefit plan in which the recipient is currently involved
  • Delivers goods and services that the recipient is entitled to receive under the terms of a previous transaction.

If a message falls into any of the above descriptions then it may not be considered spam and need not meet the obligations for consent, identity and unsubscribe. If you are not sure your intended electronic message fits into the above categories, you may wish to seek independent legal advice regarding the nature of your message.

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