VHA fined $102k for mobile spam

Dylan Bushell-Embling
11 Nov 2009

Australian regulator ACMA has slapped Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) with a six-figure fine for allegedly violating the Spam Act with a Coca-Cola mobile marketing campaign.

VHA has agreed to pay an A$110,000 ($102,000) fine for its part in the campaign, which involved sending out 100,000 text messages.

According to ACMA, the messages provided no indication as to how a recipient could opt out of receiving further messages, as required under local law.

VHA has also undertaken to appoint an independent auditor to monitor the company's Spam Act compliance, and to provide Spam Act training for all its employees.

“The ACMA considers that well-resourced companies should be compliance leaders,” ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said. “There is no excuse for them to fall short in their Spam Act obligations for SMS marketing campaigns.”

Advertising agency New Dialogue has also been hit with a fine, agreeing to pay $22,000 for its part in the promotion. Content aggregator Big Mobile, meanwhile, has agreed to pay compensation to the victims of each spam violation during the next twelve months.

But the subject of the advertising campaign - Coca-Cola South Pacific - has been spared a fine in lieu of a formal warning, suggesting that ACMA considers that the company had delegated control over the campaign to its partners.

The messages read, “take a hint from your PC and reboot. You’ll work faster. Reclaim your lunch hour with a friend. Escape with a Coca-Cola lunch break.”

Australia's ranking on the list of email spam producing countries fell to 32nd from 10th in the first four years following the 2004 introduction of the Spam Act, ACMA said.

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