Optus has been fined $504,000 by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for breaching spam laws, according to articles by the ABC and the SMH. The fine is the second largest in ACMA’s history to be awarded, being just $6,000 shy of the $510,000 fine which was slapped on Telstra in 2014 for missing service standards for urban landline connections.
Despite customers notifying Optus of their wish to opt-out or unsubscribe from such messages, an ACMA investigation found that customers still received the relevant messages, resulting in more than 2 million breaches to the Spam Act 2003 (Cth). Rather than a ‘one-off’ issue, it was found that Optus had systemic deficiencies with their compliance procedures and governance.
In addition to the fine imposed, Optus has also provided an undertaking to ACMA to appoint an independent consultant to review their internal procedures so that compliance with spam laws can be attained, and are also required to report to ACMA any instances of non-compliance over the period of the undertaking.
What this makes clear is that ACMA is increasingly willing to take to task any company that may be in breach of spam laws, as also indicated by the fact that ACMA has been paid more than a million dollars for breaches of spam and telemarketing laws in the last 18 months. It is the systematic failure that captures the ire of the regulator. Mistakes can occur but companies must be able to demonstrate structured procedures and policies for compliance. Many companies are exposed due to ad hoc or out of date approaches to these issues.