The code of practice -- registered by the Australian Communications and Media Authority after being developed by the Internet Industry Association (IIA) and state industry bodies -- is designed to supplement Australia's anti-spam legislation, itself the subject of a review by the Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Senator Helen Coonan.
The code is set to apply to the 689 active ISPs in Australia from 16 July.
Chris Chapman, the chairman of the ACMA, described the document as "the first legislative code of practice for Internet and e-mail service providers in the world".
E-mail service providers include multinational heavyweights like Yahoo and Microsoft, whose free offerings are Yahoo Mail and Hotmail respectively.
Under the code, Internet Industry Spam Code Of Practice, Internet and e-mail service providers must offer spam filtering options and advice to subscribers. They also must have a complaints handling process for spam.
The code also lays down a range of technical obligations such as prevention of automated registration of e-mail accounts, retain the right within Acceptable Use Policies to scan their own networks for subscribers' misconfigured mail and proxy servers and impose "reasonable limits" on the rate at which subscribers can send e-mail.
Senator Coonan is presently reviewing the Spam Act 2003 to see if it requires improvement. The ACMA has strongly backed the existing legislation, saying there "does not appear" to be any grounds for significant amendment. The regulator has pointed out the proportion of global spam coming out of Australia has fallen to below one percent.