If you’ve received political text messages in the last few weeks, you aren’t alone. A quick check of social media shows that many people have received these messages. We’ve been getting questions about what can be done about the messages if they are unwanted and why we don’t block them.

We get that unwanted texts can be frustrating. Especially when it’s a message you don’t agree with.

What are these texts?

Some political parties have been sending text messages at random to Australian mobile numbers featuring their campaign messaging.

These messages often contain short slogans or links to campaign websites.

Recently, this sort of text has been sent by the United Australia Party, authorised by Craig Kelly MP.

Why am I receiving these texts?

If you have received one of these messages, we’d like you to know first and foremost that Telstra didn’t send it, and we did not share your details with a third party to facilitate the text message campaign.

If you’re wondering how you received it without opting in, Mr Kelly has indicated that he and/or the United Australia Party used a random number generator to target the text.

Can these messages be blocked?

As a telco, we don’t have the authority to block messages from political parties.

The ACMA’s guidance on the Spam Act states that, in most instance, an organisation must have your express or implied consent before they can send you marketing messages, and have a way to stop the messages if you don’t want to receive them anymore.

However, some organisations can still send messages without having your consent to do so. This includes registered charities; education institutions; government bodies, and political parties.

You can learn more about what constitutes a spam message under the law at the ACMA’s website.

While the law doesn’t allow us to block these political text messages, iOS and Android devices both allow you to block a particular number from texting your device. These methods may not block all the messages from this campaign, but it may still be helpful.

>How to block text messages on iPhone:

  1. In a Messages conversation, tap the name or number at the top of the conversation, then tap ‘i’ at the top right.
  2. Tap info.
  3. Scroll down, then tap Block this Caller.

To view and manage your list of blocked contacts and phone numbers, go to Settings  > Messages > Blocked Contacts.

On an iPhone you can also filter your messages, so that numbers not in your contacts are sent to a separate list. Find out more at Apple Support.

How to block text messages on an Android device:

  1. Open the Messages app.
  2. On the Home screen, touch and hold each conversation that you’d like to block.
  3. Tap Block > Block.

Find out more at Google Support.

Keep in mind that these messages can originate from a variety of different numbers, so blocking one doesn’t block the whole campaign.

Can I make a complaint about these text messages?

For information about the Spam Act, and some actions you can take if you receive unwanted marketing texts or emails, visit the ACMA website.

The ACMA regulates the Spam Act which defines Spam (and specifically excludes messages from political parties) and the AEC regulates political messages. To lodge a complaint with the AEC, visit here.