Published: Sat, Sep 1st, 2007


On 5th of September 2007 the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act (the Act) came into force.

1. What is the purpose of the Act?
The Act aims to prohibit unsolicited commercial electronic messages with a New Zealand link from being sent.

2. What is a commercial electronic message?
Under the Act it means an electronic message that

(i) Markets or promotes goods; or services; or land; or an interest in land; or a business or investment opportunity;
(ii) assists or enables a person to obtain dishonestly a financial advantage or gain from another person; or
(ii) provides a link, or directs a recipient, to a message that does 1 or more of the things listed in sub paragraphs (i) and (ii) above.

3. Who will the Act affect?

All businesses or persons who send electronic messages such as emails to market products and services.

4. How do you comply with the Act?
The following areas are required to be complied with by the sender when sending a commercial electronic message:

The message must identify clearly the person who authorised the sending of the message (i.e. the sender must have the consent of the recipient);

The message must contain accurate information on how the sender can be contacted; The message must contain a clear, functional unsubscribe facility; The sender must not use address harvesting software (used for searching for and collecting internet addresses) or a harvested address list in connection with, or with the intention of sending unsolicited commercial electronic messages.

5. What happens if you do not comply?
There are various civil enforcement methods available to the person affected, the enforcement department and the Courts. In particular, the Courts can award a pecuniary penalty against the sender of up to $500,000.00.

6. What can you do?
The Department of Internal Affairs recommends a simple three step process to ensure that you are not sending spam or breaching the new legislation.

Step 1: Make sure that you have the consent of the recipients of the commercial electronic message.

Step 2: Identify the business responsible for sending the commercial electronic message and how they can be contacted.

Step 3: Include a functional unsubscribe facility in all commercial electronic messages.

We strongly suggest that you take time to review your business practices. We would be very happy to offer assistance to any clients who may require further advice in order to comply with these new legal requirements.

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