An academic email address seems to be a magnet for all kinds of spam, and while some of it is obvious grift, some is from otherwise legitimate companies. They will even often include an "unsubscribe" link, suggesting the onus is on the receiver to do so.

This question asks about whether one can find out how those companies got your email address and whether you can ask them to stop mailing you, both answered in the affirmative. This seems like too little, too late—surely, these companies should not be mailing me in the first place?

Is there any course of action I can take that may have further consequences for them?

My question is primarily written from an EU/GDPR perspective, but answers for companies or recipients in other jurisdictions are bound to be useful to someone, too.

  • The EU has fairly robust rules against unsolicited email marketing (Art 13 ePrivacy Directive, implemented in every EU member's national laws). Having a way to unsubscribe is one requirement, but first you would have to give consent or be an existing customer's of theirs. Given the amount of spam, regulators can't investigate every email, and these national rules are effectively impossible to enforce against the kind of shady overseas company that would resort to spamming. So uh, keep training your spam filters?
    – amon
    Commented Feb 17 at 21:21
  • 1
    In the U.S., the relevant statute is the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (CAN-SPAM Act). en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAN-SPAM_Act_of_2003 There is also a separate junk fax statute.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Feb 18 at 4:56
  • @amon I'm specifically wondering about the case when the spam comes from a company that is a real entity based in some jurisdiction that cares about these things. What is the legal status of them sending the email, and if it is not something they may do, is there any place that I can report it?
    – Komi Golov
    Commented Feb 18 at 16:50

1 Answer 1


There isn’t a personal cause of action

It is illegal to send marketing emails without the address owner’s permission. Such permission can be explicit or implicit (e.g. in the context of an ongoing customer relationship), but the onus is on the business to show they have permission.

Even where they do have permission, the email must identify the sender and make it easy to unsubscribe.

Where the law is breached, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is responsible for enforcement; the law does not create a private right to sue.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .