It is an inescapable fact of life that if you are connected to the internet and you use email as a form of communication, you will have received spam emails at some time or another. You might be one of the lucky ones who has rarely ever received spam emails or you might be constantly inundated with this annoying marketing activity.
These low-quality, unsolicited nondescript messages fill up our inboxes on a daily basis and not only are they annoying, but they cause us to waste valuable time sorting through and deleting them. Spam emails are a worldwide problem and the 2014 November Report from Symantec has revealed that the global spam rate was 54.6% in November.
This means that 1 in 2 emails sent to people around the world are spam emails. That is a huge number of unsolicited emails, however on a more positive note this rate has dropped from 71% a year ago to the current 54.6%.
So what can you do to eliminate or at least reduce the number of spam emails in your inbox?
First let’s take a look at what spam actually is and the laws in Australia that can help protect you, if you believe you are being spammed. Then we will list a number of steps you can take to reduce the amount of spam you receive in your inbox.
You might not be aware that Australia actually has laws against spamming, which is defined in the Act as “unsolicited commercial electronic messages with an Australian link”. The Act goes on to explain that an Australian link means that the email originated in Australia, was commissioned in Australia or was sent from overseas to an Australian address.
The Act covers unsolicited emails, mobile phone text messages, multimedia messaging and instant messaging. Commercial electronic messages are defined as containing information that:
The whole point is that these electronic messages are sent out to many people at the same time, without the consent or the inferred consent of the recipient.
The definitions of these two different types of consent are clearly explained by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) who are responsible for enforcing the Spam Act, 2003.
Express consent: This can be obtained by the person filling out a form, giving their verbal consent in person or over the phone or ticking a box or subscribing on a website. The person must be made aware however, that they are giving their consent to receive commercial messages in the future.
Inferred consent: If a person is a member of a club or a subscriber to a service, so that an ongoing relationship exists, then consent to receiving commercial messages can be inferred. Also, if you publish your email address on a website or on some form of print media, unless you clearly state that you do not want to receive commercial messages, your consent can be inferred – but only to receive commercial messages related to your line of work.
Under the Spam Act, 2003, businesses cannot email or SMS you unless they have already obtained your express or inferred consent. They cannot contact you electronically or digitally to ask for your consent to receive commercial messages, as this in itself is considered to be spam.
Under the Spam Act, 2003, every commercial message must make it easy for recipients to unsubscribe from their mailing list and clearly indicate how to do so. A request to unsubscribe, must be honoured within 5 working days.
The problem here is that many spammers will include a unsubscribe link in their emails, which actually doesn’t work. What it does do is tell spammers that your email is active and can lead to even more spam emails.
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner advices that the first step is to not reply to any spam communications. Apparently, the purpose of many spam emails is to test whether the email is active and if you reply they will inundate you with further spam messages. It is recommended that you delete spam emails and if you know the business who has sent them, to contact them and ask to be removed from their mailing list.
Here are a number of other options you can use to reduce spam emails:
Hopefully, these steps will dramatically reduce the amount of spam you receive in your inbox.
Remember, that if you wish to make a complaint about spam, you can do so at the ACMA website or call them on 1300 855 180.