Spam law risks blocking genuine sales pitches

Australian's new spam legislation may trap legitimate businesses attempting to sell their products and services, say ISPs

The new Spam Act may be designed to stop spammers but it is also likely to catch legitimate businesses selling their products and services online.

Clearswift Asia Pacific managing director Chy Chuawiwat said at a Spam Forum today "chances are that the Spam Act will catch some legitimate business people unaware that they are breaking the new law and fines can be hefty for breaches."

Some researchers claim that 80 percent of all emails will be spam by 2007, providing impetus to the federal government to tighten the provisions of the Act.

Mike Sadler, OzEmail director for product development and research, said, "it's one thing to know what is or isn't allowed by the Spam Act, but it could be an entirely different thing knowing what various email gateway operators might classify as unwanted."

"Businesses should be really concerned that they know the message is getting through, and if it doesn't what steps they can take to rectify the issues," Sadler warned.

During a panel session today, Chuawiwat and Sadler suggested some ways for legitimate businesses to send their marketing electronic messages without getting hit by the Spam Act and or being blocked by email and Web site filters.

Chuawiwat proposed that messages should use text instead of plain HTML only. Use links to your Web site and add as much contact information as possible to prove the legitimacy of the message and the company. Use plain text subject lines and ask the recipient to put you in their "White List". Limiting the number of recipients of an email will also help avoid the filters.

Chuawiwat warns not to put "spam phrases" such as 'click here to unsubscribe' in the emails so messages are not filtered out as spam.

Clayton Utz IT laywer Andre Stein says aside from these measures, companies should also educate "the staff and management regularly and in plain English." He said it is important that companies know what their staff are doing with and on their computer networks, and to consistently enforce the rules.

For more coverage on ZDNet Australia, click here.