I regularly send advertising by e-mail. What do I have to do now?

  1. The sender of the advertising message must be clearly identifiable, in other words must not be hidden or falsified.
  2. The advertising message must include a "Remove me" link. If a recipient clicks on this, he must be removed from the distribution list.
  3. With effect from 1 April 2007, before they are added to the distribution list, additional recipients must have given their consent, otherwise you could be liable to prosecution. As an alternative to giving their consent, it is also acceptable for these additional recipients to have purchased something from you.

What is the maximum penalty for spammers?

The maximum penalty is 3 years in prison or fines of up to CHF 1,080,000 (in accordance with Art. 23 Unfair Competition Act (UCA) as well as Art. 333 and 34 of the Criminal Code).

Regarding e-mails, what is the most suitable address for an internet provider's spam reporting centre?

The most suitable address, but not the only possible one, is “abuse” is proposed for such centres in RFC 2142.

I regularly send advertising to a few dozen selected recipients. At what level does "mass" advertising begin?

No quantitative limit is laid down for mass advertising. If you reach multiple recipients with one mailing, this might already constitute mass advertising. However, the final decision in each individual case lies with the court.

I regularly receive spam. Please do something about it.

Other agencies are responsible for implementing the ban on spam. You can:

  • inform the telecommunication services provider about the spammer. Every provider in Switzerland must operate a spam reporting centre. It must take action against the spammer, e.g. bar him from sending e-mail. 
    Providers in other countries also often have such reporting centres.
  • notify your telecommunication services provider in writing that you have received spam. It must then - as far as possible - provide you with information about the sender.
  • take action against the spammer in the civil court. It your action is successful, you may, for example, receive compensation, ban the spammer from sending spam in the future and have the judgement of the court published.
  • lodge a complaint against the spammer with the competent cantonal agencies - generally the police (for violation of article 3 o of the Law against Unfair Competition).

Last but not least: every day billions of spam messages are intercepted. It is above all this work in the background which protects us all from the flood of spam.

I am being called by a call centre operative, even though my entry in the telephone directory has an asterisk. Isn't this banned?

If it was a call centre operative on the telephone, the call was not spam, as it was not automated. The only spam calls are those where it is not a person speaking to you at the other end of the line, but recorded speech is played automatically or the call is terminated immediately.

If you are called by a call centre operative, this is not spam (because spam is always automated).

However: anyone who ignores the mark in the telephone directory indicting that a customer does not wish to receive advertising messages from third parties and that their data may not be passed on for purposes of direct advertising is infringing Article 3 letter u of the Unfair Competition Act. This mark in the telephone directory generally takes the form of an asterisk. The asterisk in the telephone directory is an indication that you do not wish to receive canvassing calls.

I do not want an entry in the telephone directory, though I don't want to receive canvassing calls. What can I do?

You can sign up on the SDV list (Swiss Consumer Information)

I am sending political or religious advertising messages. Do I still have to comply with spam regulations?

According to the courts, the Unfair Competition Act only applies to commercial competition. If your advertising is not capable of influencing commercial competitors, you therefore do not have to comply with the spam regulations, even if we recommend it in the interests of all.

Specialist staff
Last modification 01.04.2012

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