ACMA issues record fine for spam

Today ACMA has announced that it has fined Woolworths $1mil for breaches of the Spam Act. This is the highest fine that the Authority has issued.

Woolworths violated the Spam Act by continuing to send emails to over 5 million individuals who had unsubscribed. The breaches were compounded by their continuing nature – they occurred over a nine-month period – and the company’s failure to heed warnings from ACMA.

In addition to the fine, Woolworths will face significant remediation expenses. The company is subject to an enforceable undertaking requiring it to appoint a consultant to review and reconfigure its email marketing systems. This consultant must also report any further instances of non-compliance to ACMA, who will be closely monitoring Woolworths.

While this is the largest fine issued by ACMA, it is still well below the maximum possible fine for repeat corporate offenders which is $2.22 million.

Compliance with the Spam Act

In light of the scalable nature of digital communications, companies of all sizes should conscious of complying with the Spam Act.

First, marketing communications must only be sent to individuals who have consented to received them. While consent can be inferred, the better approach is to obtain express, opt-in consent.

Any marketing communications must also:

  • identify you as the sender – use the correct legal name of your business and Australian Business Number,
  • contain your contact details, and
  • make it easy to unsubscribe – including actioning unsubscribe requests within 5 days.

If you would like further advice or assistance with Spam Act compliance or any other privacy or data security related legal issues, please contact our privacy and data security specialist, Sam Hartridge.