Anti-spam law now in force

  • David Cunliffe
Communications and Information Technology

NZ joins global fight against spamNew Zealand actively joins the global fight against spam with the government’s new anti-spam legislation coming into effect. Parliament passed the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007 to enable the fight against New Zealand-sourced spam and as the basis for New Zealand’s participation in international efforts to combat unsolicited electronic messages, mainly email. “That legislation takes effect following a six-month transition period to allow organisations to get their email practices and database systems in order,” said Communications Minister David Cunliffe. “The Act alone will not solve the issue of spam. However, from today enforcement agencies are now in a position to bring spammers to task for their illegitimate activities.” The Department of Internal Affairs has established a unit to enforce the new law and is running nationwide seminars to prepare businesses for the law change and encourage good electronic marketing practice. “The seminars have shown there is widespread support for the new law because the e-marketing industry as well as individuals wants spam stopped,” Internal Affairs Minister Rick Barker said. “The unit will be part of the global fight against spam.” The Anti-Spam Compliance Unit will investigate complaints and act against spammers in New Zealand who are deliberately flouting the law. It will also promote education and awareness of spam, encourage voluntary compliance, liaise with industry, monitor emerging technologies and work with international agencies. Penalties for breaching the UEM Act range from formal warnings to infringement notices and court actions with a maximum fine for $500,000 for an organisation and $200,000 for an individual. A spammer could also be ordered to pay victims compensation for loss suffered and/or damages based on profit gained from sending the spam. Further details are available at:


  • Unsolicited commercial electronic messages, commonly known as spam, are estimated to make up around 80 per cent of all email traffic worldwide.
  • The Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007 aims to prevent New Zealand becoming a haven for spammers by prohibiting unsolicited commercial electronic messages and requiring 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.
  • The definition of “consented to receiving” in the Act includes express, inferred and deemed consent. This definition seeks to achieve the right balance between legislating against unwanted messages and allowing for legitimate e-marketing and commercial communications.