Spam consists of unsolicited text messages, email messages, faxes or auto-dial calls that are sent for commercial purposes. Due to the ease and low cost in which e-mails can be sent, e-mails are the main focus of any discussion concerning spam. In Israel and around the world, preventing unsolicited e-mails has gained attention as creating serious privacy concerns – in connection with the sending of unsolicited e-mails as well as in connection with the manner in which the e-mail addresses are gathered for the purpose of sending the e-mails. In order to tackle these issues, laws against spam were enacted across the world.
In Israel, 2016 brought the first amendment to the country’s anti-spam legislation, which created a special regulatory regime for political propaganda and donations for non-profit organizations.
Opt-In vs. Opt-Out
Generally, Israel’s anti-spam legislation requires a person to opt-in, by way of an advance explicit written consent, in order to allow sending that person advertising materials. This is opposed to an opt-out mechanism, in which advertising materials can be sent to a person unless that person states affirmatively that he/she does not want to receive them.
There are exceptions, of course. If you have a prior business relationship with someone, you may send advertising materials without an opt-in, under certain conditions. Similarly, under the new amendments, a non-profit organization or public benefit company can send unsolicited materials seeking donations without an opt-in from the addressee.
Importance of Securing Approval
Running afoul of the legislation allows the person receiving the unsolicited correspondence to seek damages in the amount of about $250 for each unsolicited communication, without the need to prove any damages incurred. The legislation also provides for criminal penalties, fines as well as managerial legal obligations and liabilities.