When you send newsletters to your whole address book you may be contributing to the spam problem. Are you sure you’re not an accidental spammer?
What is spam?
Spam is unwanted bulk email, unsolicited electronic messages. It has become an enormous problem on the Internet. It’s clogging email channels, annoying email users and administrators, and costing businesses lost time and money.
The Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007
The (New Zealand) Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007 aims to prohibit unsolicited commercial electronic messages and require senders of commercial electronic messages to include accurate sender information and a functional unsubscribe facility.
The act prohibits persons from using address-harvesting software or a harvested-address list in connection with the sending of unsolicited commercial electronic messages.
It applies to all emails, texts and instant messages that market or promote goods, services, and other schemes of a commercial or dishonest nature.
Does the new law apply to us?
As a community group you may feel that such a law doesn’t apply to you. That may or may not be true, and it would be a good idea to consult a lawyer for a definitive opinion. Or, you could save a lot of fees by making sure your email practices are conservative.
Tough in, easy out
Before adding anyone to a regular mailing, make sure that they are agreeing to receive information from you by email. Also make sure recipients can easily and quickly remove themselves from your mailings, no questions asked.
Opt-in not opt-out
When you set up a mailing list (a set of addresses to which you’ll send regular or irregular information), ask the intended recipient to confirm that they wish to join your mailing list. If they don’t confirm, then don’t add them.
“Would you like to join our mailing list?” is very clear. If they respond with a Yes, then they have opted-in.
This is especially important if you’ve simply added email addresses to your list when people have contacted you for information, or you’ve been chatting at a party or conference.
Don’t just send unrequested emails, with a sentence at the end that says “If you don’t want to stay on our list then let us know.” That’s a spammer technique.
A functional unsubscribe facility
With every mailing list message you send you must include a clear link or other method for recipients to unsubscribe. Remember, the people on your list will have deliberately subscribed in the first place, or have explicitly confirmed their willingness to receive your emails.
At the bottom of every email message you send to the list (or in some other prominent position), include clear information about how to be removed from the list. If you receive an unsubscribe request then act on it immediately.
- Anti-spam law now in force.
- Anti-spam Legislation.
- Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007 (Search under Acts if the link breaks).
Written for and reproduced from CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, April 2007. This article may have been modified from the original and applies specifically to New Zealand, though it also has wider application.