The 2012 amendments that were made to the South African Electronic Communications and Transactions Act of 2002 (“ the ECT Act”) shows that the South African Government is taking a serious approach to the issue of spam. The new amendments to the Act stipulate more severe forms of penalty to be meted out for violations of the Act. These amendments align the ECT Act with current trends in legislation, such as the Consumer Protection Act of 2011 and the Protection of Personal Information Act of 2013.

While the intended purpose of the Act has always been to prevent the abuse of information systems, with these amendments the government appears to have reconsidered how to better achieve this goal.

In the past the Act required a business to provide the consumer with a way to “opt out” of receiving emails whereas the amended Act now dictates that businesses can only ‘spam’ consumers that have “opted in” to receiving information about their business.

So according to Sybaweb’s Patrick Turner, “this means on a practical level is that businesses are no longer allowed to send unsolicited emails to individuals in order to market themselves and their products”. Should the Act be violated it can result in a hefty fine of up to R1 million or up to twelve months imprisonment. 

According to Mike Hendrikse, CEO of The Online Marketer, sending spam is simply bad manners in the electronic world and we should not indulge in it. Now there is a punitive reason to back up this philosophy.