Spamming is Legal for Australian Politicians

spam federal election Australian politicians legal

Open Season for Spam Emails in Australia as During Australia’s Federal Election.

With the recent federal election in Australia, it came with an expected onslaught of campaign messages both in your mail and electronic inbox. With email addresses not thoroughly protected under law, it’s practically open season for politicians and parties as far as sending electronic campaign messages go.

Chances are, during the campaigns you’ve received spam from the Palmer United Party, led by polarising businessman/politician Clive Palmer. The party has been busy shooting off its campaign emails everywhere, with multiple users across Australia reporting to have received messages on various .org.au, .edu.au, and .gov.au email addresses.

Even generic addresses used by several Senate committees haven’t been spared, with reports saying some addresses have gotten 3 or 4 messages daily.

spam clive palmer federal election

Samples

It’s clear that messages like this:

Men and Women of Australia:

“Australia’s debt is increasing at $3 billion every week. It’s time for a fundamental change. Our debt has gone up $30 billion in the past 10 weeks. Palmer United has a positive policy to turbo-charge the Australian economy…”

…and:

“An urgent reform of Australian food labelling was required to keep profits at home and protect local jobs, the federal leader of the Palmer United Party Clive Palmer said.

Mr. Palmer said that if elected, his part would ensure uniform food-labelling reform in Australia to promote the endeavours of local producers and boost employment.”

…are spam emails, so the question is, are these emails legal, and more importantly, just how did the Palmer United Party get a hold of so many email addresses?

Legality

The bad news, at least for recipients of these messages, is that such emails are actually legal. In fact, they’re not even recognised as spam by Australian law. The Spam Act of 2003 notes that “commercial electronic messages” are to be sent only with the recipient’s consent, and that they should identify sender and come with an unsubscribe function that stops you from receiving messages.

But a wide range of organisations are exempt from many of the act’s provisions, including  registered political parties — as well as government bodies, registered charities, as well as educational and religious organisations.

In other words, PUP is free to send you emails if they have your address. Chalk it up to the wonders of democracy.

How’d They Acquire your Emails?

It’s easier than it looks.

For starters, the federal government and states actually have access to online directories that list key persons and generic email addresses. It’s quick and easy to compile a mailing list with access to these directories.

What’s more, there’s an even easier way to put together a good list of addresses: renting or better yet, buying an existing one. Try running a search for “email lists Australia” and you’ll likely find various companies that are more than happy to fire off your messages to your desired demographic. Multiple organisations have decided to sell their email databases for the right price; the only exemption being those that have explicitly stated that they won’t share addresses.

At Enform, we like to inform our partners and clients that their email addresses are by no means a secret, nor are they truly protected. Every person and organisation you’ve ever emailed knows it and in the case of the latter, probably keeps it for “safekeeping.”