Australia’s number two carrier, Optus, has paid a $504,000 infringement notice after being found by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to have committed significant breaches of spam laws.
The ACMA found Optus sent SMS and email marketing emails to approximately 750,000 consumers after they had already unsubscribed, and also sent billing notices which did not have an unsubscribe facility.
Australian spam laws were introduced in 2003 and historically the fines have been modest. However this is the largest infringement notice ever paid for spam and is indicative of Australian regulators becoming increasingly active in the markets they regulate.
In addition to the fine, the ACMA accepted a court enforceable undertaking in which Optus will appoint an independent consultant to review its systems, policies, and procedures.
Although ACMA generally takes a consultative approach with business, the record fine shows it is increasingly willing to use more forceful powers to compel compliance with spam laws.
It follows a trend in recent years of Australian regulators taking a more proactive approach to enforcement including:
- the Australian Securities and Investments Commission adopting a “Why not litigate” approach following the Financial Services Royal Commission; and
- the establishment of a new branch within the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to investigate and enforce competition and consumer protections in digital platform markets following the Digital Platforms Inquiry.