The ACMA Slaps Starlink on the Wrist for Failing to Disclose Limited-Time Deal End Dates

The ACMA Slaps Starlink on the Wrist for Failing to Disclose Limited-Time Deal End Dates

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has cautioned Starlink for failing to disclose the end date of a ‘limited time offer’ advertised on its website, and has issued the satellite-based internet company with a direction to comply.

Starlink, a subsidiary of SpaceX, the space flight company owned by Elon Musk, began operation in Australia in 2021. Since then, it has operated as a high-cost, high-speed, and high-latency alternative to the NBN in rural and regional Australia, with the company announcing collaborations with both Optus and Telstra on new internet plan offerings.

Now, the company has been issued a direction to comply by ACMA after it was found to have contravened the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code. Specifically, Starlink supposedly breached Clause 4.1.4(b):

“Failing to include important limitations which apply to a special promotion, by not disclosing the end date in the advertising material for the special promotion,” as per the ACMA regs.

Sparked by a consumer complaint, ACMA released a report on the failure to advertise a special promotion timeframe, which showed a screenshot dated June 1, 2023. The screenshot, which shows the Starlink Australian home page on that date, definitely specifies a limited-time offer but not an end date. The home page has since been changed.

“The ACMA notes that on 26 July 2023, the advertising material promoting the special promotion for residential customers was updated to clarify that the special offer ends on 15 August,” the ACMA added in its report.
In the specific direction to comply document, the ACMA warns that if Starlink doesn’t comply with the Act, “The ACMA may issue an infringement notice relating to the contravention (subsection 572E(1) of the Act) or apply to the Federal Court for an order that Starlink pay the Commonwealth a pecuniary penalty in respect of its contravention of a civil penalty provision (see subsection 121(4) and subsection 571(1) of the Act).”

Failure to comply with ACMA directions to comply with the code can result in penalties of up to $250,000.

Gizmodo Australia has reached out to Starlink for comment.

Image: Adrian Hancu/iStock

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