Meet the Anti-Spam Laws From Around the World

Even though the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) has suspended the lawsuit provision that was supposed to go into effect on July 1, 2017, it serves as an important reminder for business owners of the regulations that exist around the world in an effort to combat spam.

A little bit of background

Earlier this year, it was announced that a provision was going to be added to CASL – one that would allow Canadian citizens to pursue legal action against an individual that sent a commercial electronic message without receiving prior consent from subscribers.

Although the intentions of the lawsuit provision were meant to help the people of Canada and reduce the risk of harassment, identity theft and fraud, it was found to be too restricting for businesses, charities and non-profit groups sending emails.

Even though the provision has been suspended, the Canadian government will go back to the drawing board to figure out ways to continue protecting consumers while also establishing fair guidelines for business owners.  

Global anti-spam laws

The lawsuit provision in Canada may have seemed like a harsh punishment for spammers (including those who accidentally send spam and don’t even realize it), but it reminds us to consider the ways different countries around the world are addressing the growing issue.

Depending on where you live, you’ll want to know the ins and outs of your country’s anti-spam laws (if they exist).

Many of them have common rules in place – including providing unsubscribe links in your email and only sending honest and accurate information in your messages.

As you learn more about the anti-spam laws in your country, keep an eye out for the following:

  • What are the specific things you should and should not do when sending an email?
    • Each law will detail what is required of businesses and organizations. Specifics will differ between countries.
  • Does the law or regulation cover more than just email?
    • While some countries have rules specifically about emails and spam, many laws also extend to other types of “commercial electronic messages” like texts, phone calls and in some cases, social posts.
  • What are the penalties for violating the anti-spam law(s)?
    • Breaching anti-spam laws can result in a monetary fine that ranges anywhere from thousands to millions. And in Italy, it can even be grounds for imprisonment!

Considering the hundreds of countries around the world, I won’t be listing all of them. But, here’s a list of some of the anti-spam laws around the world:

United States: CAN-SPAM Act

Canada: CASL

Australia: Spam Act of 2003

New Zealand: Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act of 2007

European Union:Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications

Switzerland: Law Against Unfair Competition

South Korea: Act on Promotion of Information and Communication Network Utilization and Information Protection

South Africa: Electronic Communications and Transactions Act of 2002

Singapore: Spam Control Act of 2007

Malaysia: Communications and Multimedia Act of 1998

Japan: Act on Regulation of the Transmission of Specified Electronic Mail

Israel: 2008 Amendment to the Communication Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law of 1982

Hong Kong: Unsolicited Electronic Messages Ordinance

Brazil: Movimento Brasileiro de Combate ao Spam

Argentina: Personal Data Protection Act

Indonesia: Law Concerning Electronic Information and Transactions

Malta: Data Protection Act

Reviewing your current email strategy

Now that we’ve covered laws around the world, take some time to review the rules and regulations established in your country. Maintaining a healthy list, using an accurate “From” name and sending relevant information to subscribers who have opted-in to your email list are some of the ways you can ensure you’re sending quality emails. But make sure your emails, sign up forms and overall strategy are compliant with your country’s specific regulations!

And remember to stay up-to-date on anti-spam news in your region. If any laws or regulations are updated, you want to make sure you’re on top of the changes.

How are you ensuring your emails comply with anti-spam laws? Tell us about it in the comments below!


  1. Neil

    7/25/2017 2:28 am

    Hi Monica,
    The lawsuit provision sounds like it would have been extremely harsh, especially if the email itself was unintentional.
    What amazes me is that despite the worldwide legislation I still receive at least 30 spam emails per day. Many of these are from reputable companies that I know I haven’t opted in with.
    I’m a big believer in email marketing and direct marketing in general however there is going to have to be some sort of shake up to clean things up a bit.
    Thanks for the article.

  2. Sereyboth Yorn

    8/1/2017 1:19 pm

    I live in Cambodia and in my country we have no spam law yet. And by the way, thank for a great share!!