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The Department of Internal Affairs

The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Services › Anti-Spam

NEW! The dangers of using email addresses from a purchased database

What is spam?

Spam is the generic term for the electronic commercial email and SMS (short message service) text messages you receive without having requested them.

These messages are essentially commercial in nature and may be sent by legitimate businesses which are marketing and promoting their goods and services. The messages may also invite the recipient to purchase a product or service. Other spam may attempt to trick people into divulging their bank account or credit card details and can also contain offensive or fraudulent material or spread computer viruses.

The negative effects are significant and far-reaching. Current estimates suggest that around 120 billion spam messages are sent every day. These emails clog up the Internet, disrupt email delivery, reduce business productivity, raise Internet access fees, irritate recipients and erode people's confidence in using email.

What are we doing about it in New Zealand?

The Department of Internal Affairs is employing a five-pronged strategy for tackling spam.

This encompasses: See also: Fraud Awareness Week

The Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007

The Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007 came into effect on 5 September 2007. The Act defines spam as 'unsolicited commercial electronic messages' (spam).

The purposes of the Act are to:
  • Prohibit unsolicited commercial electronic messages with a New Zealand link (i.e. messages sent to, from or within New Zealand)
  • Require commercial electronic messages to include accurate information about the person who authorised the sending of the message and a functional unsubscribe facility to enable the recipient to instruct the sender that no further messages are to be sent to the recipient
  • Prohibit address-harvesting software being used to create address lists for sending unsolicited commercial electronic messages
  • Deter people from using information and communication technologies inappropriately.
The Act is also intended to encourage good direct marketing practice by:
  • Requiring electronic messages to contain a functioning unsubscribe facility
  • Ensuring electronic messages are sent only to customers who have consented to receiving it
  • Restricting the use of address-harvesting software.
The Act covers email, instant messaging, SMS and MMS (text and image-based mobile phone messaging) of a commercial nature. It does NOT cover faxes, Internet pop-ups or voice telemarketing.

Anti-Spam enforcement

The Department of Internal Affairs enforces the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007 by:
  • Investigating complaints about spam
  • Acting against ‘spammers’ who are deliberately flouting the law
  • Undertaking research into technologies used to send spam
  • Advising Government and organisations on spam matters
  • Liaising with relevant overseas bodies to ensure New Zealand complies with international agreements concerning spam.
Complaints about spam

Businesses and individuals are able to lay complaints about spam using the online Spam Complaints Form. The Department may investigate these complaints and take the appropriate action.

Complaints about objectionable material

The Department also enforces the Films, Videos, and Publication Classification Act 1993. If you are concerned that something you have seen may be objectionable please fill out the online Content Complaint Form, or contact our censorship inspectors.

Anti-Spam video

This video details the requirements businesses need to follow to comply with the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007. It features members of the Anti-Spam Compliance Unit as well as Keith Norris (NZ Marketing Association), Laura O'Gorman (Buddle Findlay), and David Farrar (Internet New Zealand).

The video is available at the links below. If you have a slow connection you may want to view the low resolution file. The duration of the video is 5.48 minutes. A written transcript is available here: Anti-Spam video transcript.

Link to high resolution Anti-Spam video
Link to low resolution Anti-Spam video


If you have any questions you can contact us at

Anti-Spam Compliance Unit
Department of Internal Affairs
PO Box 805
Wellington 6140
Phone: (04) 495 7200

**This file is in Windows Media Video (.wmv) format. You need to have the Windows Media Player installed on your computer. You can download a free version from the Microsoft Windows Media site.