Non-commercial unsolicited email is not ‘spam’ in Australia

So for the last few months, I (via the QGL mailing list) have been receiving a bunch of what I consider to be ‘spam’ from someone called Frank Walker. It’s unsolicited email with a clear focus – commerical/political in nature, all referencing a handful of sites – and seemingly, no way at all to make it stop. Unsubscribe requests are not honored, the mails going out are going to many people via a Cc: field, and it’s clear that other people receiving these emails were not expecting them and want them to stop too.

This somewhat obnoxious person has compiled a list of various mailing addresses – including MPs like Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull and various interest groups – and has been spamming anti-Labor political propaganda (primarily about global warming) for a few months.

Frank Walker does not respond to unsubscribe requests. There’s no useful information identifying him – in fact, I suspect ‘Frank Walker’ is a pseudonym, as shortly before he arrived in my Inbox I was getting a bunch of extremely similar emails from another name and email address. I complained to the ISP about this behaviour and shortly after, Walker arrived on the scene. Possibly a coincidence, but who knows? But in short, he seems to violate pretty much every section of the “What is spam?” rulebook for Australians.

I contacted the ACMA about Mr Walker, assuming that this qualified as spam. The ACMA got back to me very quickly and confirmed that it is, surprisingly, not spam. It’s not commercial in nature:

it does not appear to be commercial in nature and therefore unlikely to
be, for the purposes of the spam act, considered a unsolicited commercial message.

Most annoying.

Fortunately I have technical know-how to simply block these stupid emails on our mail server. Others are not so lucky – several of the unwilling recipients of this drivel have replied-to-all (yes, everyone is just included in one big “to” line; Mr Walker either is ignorant of the Bcc field or has done this intentionally to really piss everyone off) asking to be unsubscribed. I assume, like my unsubscribe request, that it was ignored.

If you’re getting Mr Walker’s silly emails, with their propaganda (the latest post is “KEVIN RUDDS REPORT CARD”, the contents of which are quite predictable) and silly references to nutbag blogs, then simply mark him as spam in your mail client and it will eventually go away – but remember, it’s not really spam!

(For what it’s worth, I’m no rabid Labor supporter. I think their policies, particularly when it comes to technology, are uninformed or outright stupid, like the Internet filter.)

Update: This person has changed email addresses and is now identified as ‘Annie Walker’ of Clearly an intentional effort to evade spam filters.

Update: This person has changed email addresses and is now identified as ‘William Jones’ of

Update 2010/08/30: Another new email address, this time ‘John Richardson’ of

Update 2010/09/20: Another new address! ‘John Parkinson’ of How much spare time does this guy have!

Update 2010/09/28: New address: ‘Wendy Allen’ of

Update 2010/10/28: New address ‘Jamie Wilson’ of

Update 2010/11/01: New address ‘Lois Philips’ of

Update 2010/12/06: New address Frank Johnstone of ‘’

Update 2010/12/21: New address Jamie Wilson of ‘’

Update 2011/07/05: After a bit of a break, two new addresses: Prakein Woldnomish of ‘’, and Richard Jenkins of ‘’

The “Why your anti-spam idea won’t work” checklist

This comes up regularly on Slashdot and I find it hilarious each time, but can never find it when I go looking for it. So, here it is:

You’re advocating a:

( ) technical ( ) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante

approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won’t work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
( ) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
( ) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
( ) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we’ll be stuck with it
( ) Users of email will not put up with it
( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
( ) The police will not put up with it
( ) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
( ) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
( ) Many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
( ) Spammers don’t care about invalid addresses in their lists
( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else’s career or business

Specifically, your plan fails to account for

( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
( ) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
( ) Open relays in foreign countries
( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
( ) Asshats
( ) Jurisdictional problems
( ) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
( ) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
( ) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
( ) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
( ) Extreme profitability of spam
( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
( ) Technically illiterate politicians
( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
( ) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
( ) Outlook

and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

( ) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever
been shown practical
( ) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
( ) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
( ) Blacklists suck
( ) Whitelists suck
( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
( ) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
( ) Sending email should be free
( ) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
( ) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
( ) Temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
( ) I don’t want the government reading my email
( ) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

( ) Sorry dude, but I don’t think it would work.
( ) This is a stupid idea, and you’re a stupid person for suggesting it.
( ) Nice try, assh0le! I’m going to find out where you live and burn your
house down!