Spam laws in South Africa

In the South African context we are guided by the ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS AND TRANSACTIONS ACT of 2002 which states the following:

  1. Any person who sends unsolicited commercial communications/email (UCE) to consumers, must provide the consumer:
    1. with the option to cancel his or her subscription to the mailing list of that person; and
    2. with the identifying particulars of the source from which that person obtained the consumer's personal information, on request of the consumer.
  2. No agreement is concluded where a consumer has failed to respond to an unsolicited communication.
  3. Any person who fails to comply with or contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and liable, on conviction, to the penalties prescribed in section 89(1).
  4. Any person who sends unsolicited commercial communications/email (UCE) to a person who has advised the sender that such communications are unwelcome, is guilty of an offence and liable, on conviction, to the penalties prescribed in section 89(1).


International Spam laws (CAN-SPAM ACT of 2003)

In the International context we are guided by the CAN SPAM ACT of 2003 which basically states the following regarding the sending of mails:

  1. A visible and operable unsubscribe mechanism is present in all emails - unsubscribe link
  2. Accurate from lines (including "friendly froms")
  3. Relevant subject lines (relative to offer in body content and not deceptive)
  4. A legitimate physical address of the publisher and/or advertiser is present in the mail.
  5. A label is present if the content is adult.
  6. For full reference to the act you can view it here View CAN-SPAM Act on Wiipedia
  7. You might say but we are only sending to South african receipients, As ISPs we form part of the bigger picture and deliver emails worldwide, if you spam someone and they report you to the international blacklists like SORBS and Spamhaus, etc, it is very possible for our IP addresses/Domain and your own domain to be blacklisted preventing us/you from sending legal mail, this does and will attract a fine of $50 per mail received to have our ip addresses unlisted, this WILL be passed onto the client who was reported.


What this means for email marketing customers?

You need to have an unsubscribe link in each of your mails to offer the subscriber a way to remove themselves from your mail lists. We provide an automatic unsubscribe link on all emails that are sent via our system. Note : If someone unsubscribes from your mailing list you should never send them further similar emails as this is against the ECT act and CAN Spam Act.

Marketers should also have obtained prior permission to send email to someone as part of a bulk communication exercise (ie. Sending out to a bulk mail list) and you need to be able to prove how you got that permission (eg. a form, a contract, registration form report, telephone conversation recording, etc). The recipient has to agree to receive electronic communications from you and you need to keep a record of it if you intend on sending more than one email to the recipient on an ongoing basis. Only then can you send them promotional communications.

The ECT Act/law doesn't prevent you from sending anyone an unsolicited email, however there are some gidelines to follow. For instance, emailing a particular person whose email address is on the website of a company with whom you'd like to do business is not an offence. This would be a one-to-one communication, that is part and parcel of going about your daily work routine for example. This would be effectively a "legal spam". You should however only send out a single email introducing your company, otherwize it can and will be be considered as spam.

How do we deal with abuse complaints?

These matters are taken very seriously by us. When we receive an abuse complaint from an email recipient or Internet Service Provider (ISP), or spam list report, we immediately look at the activity of the account holder that generated an abuse report and the messages in question is investigated. We will also send the complaint to you and require a response to explain what happened, where their address was obtained from, etc. In our discretion and where necessary, we then will assist our clients to rsolve the abusive activity or suspend/terminate the offending account. HostworX/Xtremeexposure reserves the right to suspend and/or terminate bulk mailing accounts at any time, according to our terms and conditions.

Unacceptable content or abuse of our systems, whether you had permission to send a mail or not, is not permitted and accounts will be suspended immediately. Any Content considered to unacceptable, ie Pornography, trading in illegal substances, defamatory remarks, etc will not be tolerated.

"I didn't know" is not a good enough answer - read the terms and conditions of service carefully !! By using our systems, you are by default, accepting our terms and conditions, if you do not agree, or want to accept our terms and conditions, acceptable use policies, etc then do not use our systems.

Let us, help you!

If you're unsure about certain issues or anything for that matter, rather communicate with our consultants before you embark on your email marketing strategy. We want our clients to be able to send email without being blacklisted or being blamed as a spammer. By following this strategy, we can ensure that you market to a wide audience while ensuring you comply with the legislation. Follow our advice you'll be well on your way to e-marketing success!

Where can you get legal advice?

If you feel you would like an expert opinion, you can contact legal firm that is leaders in the field in South Africa.

Download Legislation Documents:

* ECT Act (South Africa)
* RIC Act (South Africa)
* Report abuse of the Xtremeexposure system



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Latest News

Jan 4, 2010
The final conversion to the new Bulkmailing system was completed, The new mailing system offers statistical information of opens, link tracking, surveys, and autoresponder functionality and much more

Jan 10, 2010
Refresh of the new Xtremeexposure website is underway, with a completion date of the end of January

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