The fine is the largest of its kind in Australian history. Picture: AAP Image/Luis Ascui
The fine is the largest of its kind in Australian history. Picture: AAP Image/Luis Ascui

Optus’ $500k fine for ‘infuriating’ spam messages

Major telco provider Optus has been handed the highest penalty of its kind in Australian history after an investigation by the communications watchdog found it breached spam laws.

The company was fined $504,0000, with the Australian Communications and Media Authority saying it continued to hassle consumers with marketing material in text messages and emails even after they had asked it to stop.

The ACMA also found Optus sent commercial emails in the form of fake bills with no option to unsubscribe.

"Australians find spam infuriating, and as a regulator it is something we are actively cracking down on," the watchdog's chair Nerida O'Loughlin said in a statement.

 

Optus sent spam to consumers even after they had requested it to stop. Picture: AAP Image/Luis Ascui
Optus sent spam to consumers even after they had requested it to stop. Picture: AAP Image/Luis Ascui

 

"This is the second largest infringement notice that has ever been paid to the ACMA, and the largest paid for spamming.

"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."

The ACMA has engaged the courts to ensure the telco follows through with its commitments to the spam act, with Optus agreeing to an independent review of its systems and policies related to its persistent marketing material.

"The undertaking should significantly reduce the risk of ongoing noncompliance; however, the ACMA will be actively monitoring Optus' compliance with its commitments," Ms O'Loughlin said.

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

The watchdog has ramped up its policing of spam and telemarketing laws over the past year-and-a-half, collecting more than $1 million in fines.

 

The fine is the largest of its kind in Australian history. Picture: AAP Image/Luis Ascui
The fine is the largest of its kind in Australian history. Picture: AAP Image/Luis Ascui

 

Optus regulatory vice-president Andrew Sheridan said the company apologised to customers who "received messages in error" and acknowledged the action taken by the watchdog.

"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," he said in a statement provided to news.com.au.

ACMA says Optus sent the spam texts and emails between June and December in 2018.

Did you receive spam from Optus? Get in touch or comment below | @James_P_Hall | james.hall1@news.com.au