Australia's Spam Legislation: A Modern-Day King Canute?

24 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2006

See all articles by Mark Bender

Mark Bender

Monash University - Department of Business Law & Taxation

Date Written: September 2006


This paper considers a number of aspects of Australia's recently introduced unsolicited commercial email (UCE or spam) legislation, the Spam Act 2003 (Cth). The magnitude and nature of the harm caused by the spam problem is outlined, as are the key provisions of the legislation enacted in an attempt to reduce spam. Observations are made as to some of the perceived shortcomings of the Act, and of lawmakers' approaches in general in trying to legislate against spam. The fundamentals of Australia's legislative approach are contrasted with those of the corresponding US legislation and some key distinctions drawn, notably the Opt-In/Opt-Out dichotomy, Australia having used the former approach, while the US used the latter. Some alternative approaches and suggested enhancements to the Australian legislation are also considered, including proposals by Bill Gates and Lawrence Lessig. Finally there is a summary of and some limited comment on the first case brought under the Australian legislation.

Keywords: Spam, Unsolicited Commercial Email, Internet Law

Suggested Citation

Bender, Mark, Australia's Spam Legislation: A Modern-Day King Canute? (September 2006). Monash U. Department of Business Law & Taxation Research Paper No. 3, Available at SSRN: or

Mark Bender (Contact Author)

Monash University - Department of Business Law & Taxation ( email )

Clayton Campus
Wellington Rd
Clayton, Victoria 3800
+61 3 9905 8554 (Phone)
+61 3 8610 2078 (Fax)


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