Commonwealth Bank Pays $3.55M Fine for Failing to Comply With Aussie Spam Laws

Commonwealth Bank Pays $3.55M Fine for Failing to Comply With Aussie Spam Laws

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has paid a penalty for failing to comply with Aussie spam laws.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) investigated the yellow and black bank, finding that it sent more than 61 million marketing emails to customers that unlawfully required them to log-in to unsubscribe.

According to the ACMA, CBA also sent a further 4 million marketing emails that did not have a functioning unsubscribe option and the bank was also found to have sent more than 5,000 marketing emails to customers who had asked to unsubscribe from these messages.

While the $3.55 million penalty might be couch change to CBA, the purpose of the fine is to hold the bank accountable to its obligations. Besides, it’s the largest penalty imposed by the ACMA for breaches of the spam laws.

In addition to paying the penalty, the ACMA has also accepted a three-year court-enforceable undertaking from CBA, in which the bank commits to an independent review of its e-marketing practices and to implement improvements.

CBA must also give regular compliance reports to the ACMA and train its staff on Australia’s spam laws.

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ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said companies must give people the option to unsubscribe from marketing messages and must make it easy to do so when consumers want to exercise their rights.

“The scale and duration of the breaches by the CBA is alarming, especially when the ACMA gave it early warnings it might have some issues and the steps it took were ineffective. The failure to fix the issues shows a complete disregard for the spam rules and the rights of its customers,” said O’Loughlin.

“Consumers are frustrated by marketing intrusions on their privacy, especially when there is no option, or it is difficult, to unsubscribe.”

The ACMA reiterated that Australia’s Spam Act 2003 requires marketing messages to contain working unsubscribe facilities. Making consumers log-in or provide personal details to unsubscribe is also generally prohibited. Once a message recipient has unsubscribed, sending further marketing messages is also against the law.

“We continue to see large and well-known businesses who should know better than breaching the spam laws. This action is a further warning to all businesses that non-compliance with Australia’s spam laws will not be tolerated,” O’Loughlin added.

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