The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Trans-Tasman allies extend agreement to fight spam

15 February 2016

The trans-Tasman fight against the scourge of spam has been bolstered following a renewed and expanded alliance between the Australian Communications and Media Authority and the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs.

Under a revamped memorandum of understanding, the two organisations have committed to assisting each other in their respective Anti-Spam responsibilities. This includes sharing intelligence about phishing activity and malware.

“Spam, phishing and malware are problems that don’t pay attention to national borders. Increasingly, the only way to tackle these problems is through cooperation between countries,” ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman said.

“The new agreement lifts the already close cooperation between New Zealand and Australia on spam and cyber security matters to a new level.

The Department of Internal Affairs’ General Manager of Regulatory Services, Maarten Quivooy, said phishing campaigns and malware delivered through spam continues to be an increasing challenge for regulatory authorities.

“Enabling the agencies to share intelligence, techniques and tools for combatting spam, as well as sharing information on phishing and malware delivered through spam demonstrates the close working relationship between the two regulators.”

Malware is malicious software that gives unauthorised access to a computer, or causes damages or disruption to computer-based systems. Spam is one of the main methods used to propagate malware, and malware is also frequently used to send spam around the globe. The Australian Cyber Security Centre reported that malware was the predominant cybercrime threat affecting Australians in 2014.

Phishing uses fraudulent emails that appear to come from legitimate businesses to fool recipients into divulging personal information. Scammers may use victims’ information to steal money from their accounts, impersonate their identity, extort money from them and undertake other criminal activities. In 2015, Australian victims of phishing scams have reported financial losses of over $850,000 to Scamwatch. New Zealand’s online safety organisation, NetSafe reports monthly on common digital challenges that cause financial and emotional harm to New Zealanders.

Under the revamped agreement, the ACMA and the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs will also share techniques and tools for countering spam. The ACMA already shares its own Spam intelligence Database enforcement and analytical software with the Department.

The ACMA and NZDIA have a long-established history of successful collaboration in enforcing the spam legislation of both countries.

For more information please see the Backgrounder below or to arrange an interview:

Australia Media contact:
Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719 and 0434 652 063 or

NZ Media contact:
Toni Demetriou, Manager Electronic Messaging Compliance, Department of Internal Affairs
Ph 021 937 630

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is a non-binding agreement between two or more parties about how they will work together or share information about a common issue.

MoUs are a formal avenue that many government agencies across the globe use to indicate a common intent and establish a framework for sharing information. MoUs help streamline the provision of information between the signatory organisations.

The ACMA and NZDIA first agreed to an MoU in April 2009. The purpose of the agreement was to facilitate the exchange of information in relation to the spam legislation of both countries.

The revised MoU is based on the original, with some amendments and added enhancements. The new agreement renews the commitment of both agencies to share information and assist each other with spam compliance and enforcement activities. Enhancements include a commitment to mutually share modifications and software enhancements to the ACMA's Spam Intelligence Database, and to share intelligence about phishing activity, malware and botnets.

The renewed MoU has a term of five years.

The New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs through the Electronic Messaging Compliance Unit of its Regulatory Services Group, is responsible for the enforcement of the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007. The MoU is established in accordance with section 20 of that Act.