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Optus Hit With Second Largest Fine Ever For Spamming Aussies

Singtel Optus has been slapped with a half million dollar regulatory fine by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for breaching Australia’s spam laws.

The telecommunications company paid the infringement notice of $504,000 – the second-largest fine ever given by ACMA – following an investigation that found Optus had breached the laws by sending texts and marketing emails to consumers who had unsubscribed from the lists.

Optus’ vice president of regulatory and public affairs, Andrew Sheridan, has since apologised to customers.

‘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,’ Sheridan said.

Chair of the ACMA, Nerida O’Loughlin, said the regulator discovered more than two million contraventions in the investigation, with around 750,000 customers receiving the messages despite having unsubscribed.

The investigation also found Optus sent commercial emails in the form of billing notices that failed to provide a unsubscribe option.

‘It is a substantial infringement notice and it is the biggest one we’ve had under the spam act,’ O’Loughlin said.

‘Optus put to us that it was a systems failure and we would say it was beyond an IT systems failure, it was a failure in terms of their compliance processes, systems, the governance of what they were doing. They were of the view that their marketing lists had all been checked for compliance and they were fine. We found they weren’t.’

The regulatory body accepted a court-enforceable undertaking from Optus that would see the telecommunications company appoint an independent consultant to review its systems, procedures for compliance with spam rules and policies.

Optus will also be made to report all flagged non-compliance to the ACMA during the undertaking.

The ACMA has received more than $1.1 million for breaches of telemarketing laws and spam in the past 18 months alone.

Optus’ infringement notice is also the biggest since 2014, when Telstra was fined $510,000 after failing to connect new landline customers on time.

O’Loughlin said the latest infringement notice issued to Optus sent a warning to all companies.

‘It will send a clear message to all companies who do large direct marketing campaigns that we are ramping up our activities and making sure that they are compliant with the law and they should make sure… their systems and processes deliver an outcome that is compliant with the spam act.’

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