Spam from Mayoral Candidates is not illegal!

Even Fair Go last night had an article about spam but a current frustration is a phonecall I had from the Department of Internal Affairs Antispam Unit which explained that the unsolicited email I've received from 'Celia for Mayor' (a Mayoral Candidate in Wellington) is not actually illegal.

Here's the email I received subsequent to our conversation:

The Department of Internal Affairs is responsible for enforcing the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007 ('the Act'). Please note that any information provided in this communication is not legal advice and is given without prejudice.

After reviewing the received message from the address [redacted from the web] sent on the 10th August 2010, the Department has found that the message is not considered a commercial message under Section 6 of the Act in that it does not promote goods or services:
6 - Meaning of commercial electronic message
• For the purposes of this Act, commercial electronic message—
o (a) means an electronic message that—
? (i) markets or promotes—
? (A) goods; or
? (B) services; or
? (C) land; or
? (D) an interest in land; or
? (E) a business or investment opportunity; or
? (ii) assists or enables a person to obtain dishonestly a financial advantage or gain from another person; or
? (iii) provides a link, or directs a recipient, to a message that does 1 or more of the things listed in subparagraphs (i) and (ii).
Please also note that Section 6 states exceptions to messages that — provides the recipient with information about goods or services offered or supplied by—
• (A) a government body
As per our discussion, this is somewhat of a grey area in that Celia is sending the message as a candidate for a local government body. Previously the Department stance has been to contact the likes of MP's and advise that their campaign messages would be in the best interest to include an unsubscribe facility and contact details so recipients can remove themselves from such messages. The Department understands that there can be frustration in receiving such messages, however you may wish to remove yourself from the mailing list by clicking on the unsubscribe facility. Or you may wish to contact the administration team by using the email address [redacted from the web].

The Department will also contact Celia's administration team and request how they are obtaining recipient email addresses for their campaign and advise accordingly. In regards to using an address from a unpublished source, you may wish to make a complaint with the Domain Name Commission.

The latter is a response to the suggestion I made that my email address had been harvested out of 'whois' data. I had another look, and the email address being used is unlikely to have come from this source.

However am dissapointed that the law in NZ (which I initially thought to be fairly well written) seems to have such a grey area around political advertising. I wonder if a mayoral candidate's advertising could be construed an advertisement of services that is not (yet) a government body...

I do appreciate the DIA attempting to educate Celia's administration team, and I wish them well. In any case, I would never vote for a spammer, so the advertising that I received from this candidate did the exact opposite of what was intended. And I remain dissapointed that the laws about spam have a gaping hole in them...