The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) today hit DC Marketing Europe Limited with the biggest penalty it has issued since the Spam Act came into force in April 2004.
The ACMA issued an infringement notice carrying a penalty of $149,600 penalising DC Marketing for 102 contraventions relating to missed call marketing activities in July and August 2006.
Missed call marketing involves the sending of short duration calls to mobile phones, thereby leaving a 'missed call' message on the phone.
Under this practice, when the mobile phone owner returned the missed call, they received marketing information from DC Marketing.
Announcing details of the fine, ACMA chairman, Chris Chapman, said consumers need to feel confident that when they use their mobile phone they are not going to be deceived into receiving unwanted marketing messages.
'This penalty should serve as a warning to all service providers that ACMA will act decisively on conduct that breaches the Spam Act," he said.
"Consumers had no way of knowing who the missed call was from before calling DC Marketing and so effectively paid to receive DC Marketing's marketing messages.
"The missed call marketing messages sent out by DC Marketing were unsolicited, did not identify the sender and did not contain an unsubscribe facility, each of which is a breach of the Spam Act."
Chapman said the ACMA is increasing anti-spam activities over the next 12 months as a result of increased funding in the 2007/08 federal budget.
"We will be closely monitoring the mobile marketing industry's compliance with the Spam Act," He said.
With repeat offenders facing potential penalties of up to $1.1 million per day, Chapman warned that non-compliance would prove to be a costly exercise.
When the Spam Act was first introduced Australia was tenth in the ranking of spam-relaying countries for e-mail spam.
For the 2006 calendar year, Chapman said Australia has fallen to 28 on the list.
"This fall in international spam rankings reflects the success ACMA has had pursuing spammers," Chapman said.
He referred to a decision in October 2006 by Justice Nicholson in the Federal Court in Perth as a recent example.
Justice Nicholson awarded a pecuniary penalty of $4.5 million against Clarity1 Pty Ltd and $1 million against its managing director, Wayne Mansfield, for contravening the Spam Act.