A question that get’s asked every now and then is if you were to publish an email address on your website, does it give the right for companies to send you unsolicited commercial email to that address?

The ACMA has set out some guidelines on this subject and it’s all related to inferred consent.

Under the Spam Act, you can only infer consent through conspicuous publication if:
the electronic address is published ‘conspicuously’—that is, it is accessible to the public, or a section of the public (for example, it appears on a website or in a telephone directory or brochure)

the address is not accompanied by a statement that commercial messages are not wanted

the subject matter of your message is directly related to the principal role or function of the recipient (electronic account-holder).  Source: ACMA

Essentially what the ACMA are saying is that there must be a strong link between what they are promoting and the recipient’s role or line of business.  Just because they believe that their product could benefit your business does not infer consent.

An example could be:

A company sells cleaning products.  If your business has a conspicuously published email for the cleaning department with an address like cleaningdepartment@somecompany.com.au it may be ok to send you an email however if your conspicuously published email address is accounts@somecompany.com.au it doesn’t mean they can send you an email because they assume your company has to clean it’s office and accounts departments like saving money on cleaning supplies.  However, if you were a cleaning supplies store that would be a different thing again.

For more information please read the following article from the ACMA

It’s kind of a greyish area and people need to careful on what they are emailing you when you publish an email address on your website.  If you were to publish a statement saying something like “No commercial messages please” next to your email address then the company would need to obtain your consent regardless before sending an email through.