Sunday, 02 February 2020 01:56

Spam breach brings Optus apology to customers receiving ‘messages in error’ Featured

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Optus has issued an apology to its customers who it says “received messages in error” after the company copped a $504,000 fine from the telecommunications regulator ACMA for breaching Australia’s spam laws.

“We acknowledge the ACMA’s action and apologise to customers who received messages in error,” said Andrew Sheridan, Vice President, Regulatory and Public Affairs, in a statement issued on Friday.

“We have committed to putting in place enhanced practices and systems to tighten the management of our marketing communications and will continue to work constructively with the ACMA on this matter."

As reported by iTWire, Optus - Australia’s second largest telco - paid the fine after an Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) investigation found that between 1 June and 4 December 2018 the company sent SMS and email marketing messages to consumers after they had unsubscribed.

The ACMA also found Optus sent commercial emails in the form of billing notices that did not include a unsubscribe facility.

ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said large e-marketers need to listen to consumers and respect their choice when they unsubscribe.

“This is the second largest infringement notice that has ever been paid to the ACMA, and the largest paid for spamming,” O’Loughlin said.

“It reflects the seriousness of breaches made by Optus and its failure to honour its customers’ wishes to unsubscribe, in some cases on multiple occasions.

“Australians find spam infuriating and as a regulator it is something we are actively cracking down on.”

The ACMA has accepted a court enforceable undertaking from Optus to help ensure its future compliance with the Spam Act - with Optus committing to appoint an independent consultant to review its systems, policies and procedures for compliance with spam rules.

“The undertaking should significantly reduce the risk of ongoing non-compliance, however the ACMA will be actively monitoring Optus’ compliance with its commitments,” O’Loughlin said.

“If they are not met, the ACMA will consider court action.”

Optus has also undertaken to report to the ACMA about all identified non-compliance for the term of the undertaking.

Over the last 18 months, businesses have paid a total of $1,127,700 in infringement notices to the ACMA for breaking spam and telemarketing laws.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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