In the lead up to the 2022 Federal Election (held next month, May 21), we’ve been seeing a slew of advertisements spanning social media, billboards and even text messages. The ACMA on Tuesday made a statement: that political text messages are exempt from spam laws.
Some political parties have been sending text messages at random to Australian mobile numbers featuring their campaign messaging. These messages often contain short slogans or links to campaign websites. Recently, this sort of text has been sent by the United Australia Party (UAP), authorised by Craig Kelly MP. According to a blog post from Telstra, the UAP used a random number generator to target the text.
In a statement made Tuesday, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) addressed the matter and said it was aware that text messages may be sent by political candidates and political parties during the 2022 Federal Election campaign.
“These messages are exempt from most spam rules,” the ACMA wrote.
Here’s what else it had to say:
The Spam Act 2003 only applies to commercial electronic messages – those that offer, advertise or promote goods or services.
An electronic message which is seeking to influence your vote is not likely to be commercial in nature.
If a message is not commercial, the sender does not need your permission to send it and does not need to include an unsubscribe option in the message.
According to the ACMA, spam is: an unwanted marketing message you receive by email, text or instant message. To be spam, the message must be commercial. That means it must contain one or more things relating to offers, advertisements or promotions. Messages are not spam if they have no advertisements, are appointment or payment reminders or notify you of a service or product fault that are about a service you use.
Telemarketing calls are not spam and different rules apply to these.
In order to not be considered spam, to send you marketing messages, the ACMA says the sender must first have your permission, include their contact details in the message and have a way for you to say ‘stop’ getting messages, such as a way to reply ‘unsubscribe’.
You can learn more about what constitutes a spam message under the law at the ACMA’s website, and if a sender breaks the spam rules, you can complain, but just remember, the ACMA does not consider those political text messages to be spam.