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.

Consumer Protection

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.

Dr Kin Kariisa

Group CEO - Next Media

Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

  • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
  • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
  • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
  • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
  • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
  • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.