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Aussie bank sent more than 61m unlawful marketing emails to clients
By our News Team | 2023
Regulatory body says the scale and duration of the breaches of the Spam Act is ‘alarming’ and issues fine of US$2.4-million.
One of Australia’s biggest banks has been fined the equivalent of US$2.4-million for sending out more than 61-million marketing emails that unlawfully required customers to log in to unsubscribe.
Under regulations which came into effect in April 2021, Australian marketers are required to allow users to unsubscribe from unwanted emails easily, without needing to log in. Failure to do so is in breach of the Spam Act.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
The country’s Communications and Media Authority announced on Wednesday that the fine had been levied against the Commonwealth Bank. The bank has around 15.9-million customers and employs almost 50,000 people.
Most of the breaches occurred after the bank updated its electronic banking terms and conditions in November 2021, which inadvertently took out language the bank had been using in communications to exempt itself from the Spam Act changes while it was in the process of creating a direct unsubscribe link.
Scale and duration of breaches ‘alarming’
“The scale and duration of the breaches by the [Commonwealth Bank] is alarming, especially when the [Australian Communications and Media Authority] gave it early warnings it might have some issues and the steps it took were ineffective,” said the authority’s chair, Nerida O’Loughlin.
“The failure to fix the issues shows a complete disregard for the spam rules and the rights of its customers.
“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.”
Monique Macleod, the bank’s Group Executive Marketing and Corporate Affairs, said the bank accepted the findings and apologised for the error.
“Since reporting this matter to [the Australian Communications and Media Authority], we’ve fixed the issues that were the subject of [the] investigation, and strengthened our systems, processes and controls to support ongoing compliance,” she said.
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