As in every election period, the elections for local authorities also flood us all with spam messages urging us to vote or donate to the campaign of one candidate or another. The multitude of messages, which sometimes seems bordering on the ridiculous, especially for those who have lived in several cities in recent years and find themselves on the mailing list of several local authorities at the same time, is an opportunity to re-visit the provisions of the Israeli spam law (beyond the obvious question of: why would I vote for someone who keeps harassing me?).
The Israeli Spam Law (or in its full name "Section 30A of the Communications Law (Bezeq and Broadcasting), 1982") aims to protect consumers from nuisance and invasion of privacy as a result of the ability of advertisers to send commercial advertising messages in a concentrated manner to consumers without their consent and without giving the consumer the option to avoid receiving the messages. While the language of the law uses the term "advertising message", caselaw expanded the definition and established its applicability to any "message that encourages contact between the business and the recipient" including a newsletter or an offer of benefits, a discount code, etc., for the purpose of discouraging business owners in the future. The law includes limitations and exemptions that are important to be aware of, such as the right of a business owner to send messages without receiving express consent as if the recipient's details were provided during negotiations for the purchase of a product or service, provided that the messages are only regarding a similar service or product and include the option to refuse to receive messages future.
The technology and platform on which the messages is sent does not change the rules applicable to it. Thus, messages sent by bots or automated systems were recognized by the Court as subject to the law and the Supreme Court even discussed the possibility of applying the law to messages sent within social networks such as Facebook. While the Court did not set rules regarding the applicability of the law to messages on social networks, it did show in its ruling a willingness to do so under the right circumstances in a manner that requires business owners to be cautious and treat messages on social networks with extra caution.
Another important issue is how recipients should be allowed to remove themselves from the mailing list. While in the past most business owners resorted to the form of sending a link for removal, in recent years it has been determined that the recipient should not be required to click on an external link, but rather the recipient should be allowed to remove itself in the same manner as the original message was sent. Thus, for example, if the message is sent by WhatsApp, the recipient must be allowed to remove itself by sending a WhatsApp message, and if the message is sent by email, it must be allowed to send an email back.
In conclusion, the spam law includes a number of essential points that justify legal consultation before sending the messages in order to avoid a class claim or individual lawsuits and the payment of unnecessary fines and compensations. And if we return to the issue of political messages, the law expressly excludes spam messages concerning national and local elections and strangely does not even require the possibility of removing from the mailing list - perhaps out of a paternalistic attitude that a person should not be allowed to choose to be completely indifferent to a political campaign and perhaps because it is just challenging to demand that the wolf enact laws to protect the sheep ...