I was surprised to read yesterday that the Commonwealth Securities Limited (CommSec) was complained against by customers for sending emails after the customers had withdrawn their consent, and that the email campaigns of CommSec did not provide an option to unsubscribe.
I said “surprised” because I have known the company for many years now ~ in my dealings in the past (albeit pre-Spam Act days) as a client, and these days as a securities broker ~ to be just “doing the right thing.”
According to the ACMA report, CommSec, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, was found not complying with two of the three basic requirements of the Spam Act 2003. The third one is that the message should contain information on who authorised the issue of the message and the address of the issuing party. Apparently, this third requirement was complied with.
Could this be just a case of oversight? Initially, I thought it was. But considering that the point of complaints had spanned a period of three months, then the complaint was not a once-off situation. It was a case of lack knowledge of the Spam Act requirements.
In accepting the ACMA’s findings, CommSec according to the government media and communications watchdog, has undertaken to review its compliance systems, and had undertaken to pay the Commonwealth government a financial component of $55,000. The CommSec implementation plan also included the appointment of an independent consultant to assess CommSec’s email campaign systems with regular reporting of its progress to the ACMA.
CommSec joins the chorus of large Australian companies found by the ACMA failing to meet the requirements of the Spam Act. The companies based on our previous reporting included Optus Networks, Smartyhost, Mobilegate / Winning Bid, and Vodafone Hutchison/New Dialogn / Big Mobile / Coca-Cola South Pacific.
“The ACMA expects that Australian businesses take note of this outcome,” said Mr Chris Chapman, Chairman of the ACMA, on the CommSec incident.
“‘Under the Spam Act, every person has the right to unsubscribe from receiving commercial electronic messages and to have that request acted on effectively and quickly. The failure to act on a request can result in significant penalties if a business is found to have breached the Act,” Mr Chapman continued.