As like most of us here at Tech Girl, I am usually juggling between many different gadgets, websites, blogs, Twitter accounts and email accounts. My pet peeve is trying to sift through all my emails, prioritising in milliseconds what I’m going to deal with next, while dodging the spam that managed to con its’ way past my filters.
So for you (okay, it was for me too), dear Tech Girl readers, I chatted to Andre Strauss, Country Manager (South Africa)at GraphicMail to find out what the laws actually are around spam and unsolicited emails so that we can all be informed as to what is allowed, what is not allowed and what we can do about it. (For those of you in the marketing game, this is especially important for you to understand what you can and can’t do with email addresses that you gather in campaigns, competitions, etc.)
The laws surrounding SPAM and unsolicited emails are not as strict as the laws in countries like the USA, but here is what they currently say (based on the Electronic and Communications and Transactions Act of 2002 and the Protection of Personal Information Act 2013):
- The sender must provide the receiver with the option to cancel his or her subscription to the mailing list. In other words, an ‘unsubscribe’ option is an absolute necessity.
- The sender must provide the receiver with the details of the source where the email and personal information was obtained. (It is important for marketers to keep a record from where they gathered the information, like business cards from industry and networking events etc.). GraphicMail advises clients to have an opt-in list with proof as this is best practice and will result in the best possible ROI.
- Any business or individual, who sends unsolicited communications to a person who has instructed the sender to be removed from all databases and communication lists is in contradiction to the current laws and can be prosecuted accordingly.
In other words, you should only be receiving mailers for which you have ‘opted in’ to or given permission to be emailed by the sender. There should also always be an opt-out option for you to unsubscribe at any time.
So what can you do about it (other than scream profanities and move them to your junk folder)? You, as the person receiving the email, are entitled to:
- Be provided with a mechanism to remove yourself from the mailing list
- Be provided with information of how your information was obtained
- Obtain assistance from your ISP’s abuse desk, by forwarding the full message (with headers) to them, if you want assistance in dealing with the matter
- Report the matter to the ISPA (Internet Service Provider’s Association), if you wish to do so
- You can select the “report spam” or “report phishing” option on any email you receive.
If you’re running a competition or promotion where you’re requesting email addresses as part of your entries, you may not add these addresses to a mailing list, unless your terms and conditions provide an opt-in term. Don’t be part of the problem, guys – email marketing can be such an effective communications channel if you use it properly.
Ah, that feels better already. Know your rights, unsubscribe where necessary and if it’s serious, report it.