Spamming can be criminal in South Africa

The Electronic Communications and Transactions (ECT) Act 25 of 2002 makes it a crime to send electronic spam to someone if they have asked you to stop, according to Lance Michalson from Michalsons Attorneys.

Writing for their company website on the topic, Michalson explained that spam in South Africa is currently dealt with in the Electronic Communications and Transactions (ECT) Act 25 of 2002, and the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) 68 of 2008.

While the CPA only deals indirectly with spam through its “direct marketing” provisions, covering telephone marketing and physical spam such as flyers, the ECT Act deals with electronic spam.

Both Acts adopt an “opt-out” approach to spam, meaning that it is legal for direct marketers to send out spam, but they have to stop if you ask them to.

Lance Michalson
Lance Michalson

Under the CPA, failure of a spammer to stop after a consumer has opted out of direct marketing communications is not a criminal offence.

The CPA also makes provision for a national opt-out registry, but a provider for this registry has sadly not been appointed yet. It also looks as though the Protection of Personal Information Bill will render this registry moot anyway.

Under the ECT Act, on the other hand, failure of a direct marketer to stop sending electronic spam after being asked to stop is criminal. According to Michalson, infringers can be reported to the police.

This means that while it is not criminal for spammers to keep phoning you or sending you unsolicited mail after you’ve asked them not to, it is a crime for them to keep spamming you electronically.

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Spamming can be criminal in South Africa