VHA in record payout over Coke spam

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VHA in record payout over Coke spam

ACMA receives its largest payment for breach of Spam Act.

The communications watchdog (ACMA) has received its largest undertaking ever from Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) after it was involved in spamming over 100,000 mobile phones with advertising that recipients could not unsubscribe from.

The ACMA accepted an enforceable undertaking from the telco which included a financial component of $110,000, the largest payment the ACMA has received from a company for breaching the Spam Act.

A spokesman from the ACMA said it had no issue with the messages sent out on the Vodafone Live service, as users had agreed to receive advertising.

The regulator said VHA had breached the Spam Act by not including a way for users to unsubscribe.

VHA also sent the message without including contact details, the spokesman said, a further breach of the Spam Act.

The ACMA's action against VHA related to three separate sends of multiple SMS messages.

On two occasions Coke commissioned its marketing company New Dialogue, now Tongue, to send out 100,000 SMS messages in two batches of 50,000. The marketing company commissioned VHA which in turn commissioned Big Mobile to send the messages.

"VHA offered the ACMA $110,000 dollars in an enforceable undertaking plus a range of other quite arduous undertakings; more than we would usually seek because obviously this is a big concern with three investigations," an ACMA spokesman said.

The ACMA also received $22,000 from Tongue in its enforceable undertaking whilst Big Mobile had undertaken to pay compensation to each recipient of any SMS message that breaches the Spam Act during the term of its enforceable undertaking.

"I would keenly hope that their actions and responses provide a sobering reminder to all of the players in the SMS marketing industry about the importance of compliance," said Chris Chapman, Chairman of the ACMA.

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