VHA pays ACMA $110,000 for SMS spamming

100,000 Coca Cola spam SMS sent

Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) is to make a 'voluntary payment' of $110,00 to ACMA for breaches of the Spam Act 2003

The payment is part of an ‘enforceable undertaking’ which relates to breaches of the Act that VHA - along with Coca Cola South Pacific (CCSP), New Dialogue and Big Mobile - made during a marketing campaign that promoted certain Coca-Cola products through SMS.

ACMA has announced that it has also issued a formal warning to CCSP and has accepted an enforceable undertaking from VHA, which includes a financial component of $110,000.

The regulator has also accepted enforceable undertakings from media agency New Dialogue which includes a fine of $22,000.

Content aggregator Big Mobile has undertaken to pay compensation to each recipient of any SMS message that breaches the Spam Act during the 12 month term of its enforceable undertaking.

According to ACMA, 50,000 SMS messages promoting certain Coca-Cola products were sent to VHA subscribers on October 2, 2008.

On October 9, 2008, a further 50,000 SMS were sent containing the same message text.

The message read:

‘Take a hint from your PC and reboot. You’ll work faster. Reclaim your lunch hour with a friend. Escape with a Coca-Cola lunch break.’

According to ACMA, the messages did not contain information about how a recipient could unsubscribe from receiving further messages, or contain information about how the recipient could contact CCSP, the authorising organisation.

“VHA, New Dialogue and Big Mobile are businesses which by their very nature are heavily involved in SMS marketing campaigns,” ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said in a statement.

“The ACMA nonetheless notes their commitment to the process of achieving compliance with the requirements of the Spam Act. 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.”

A VHA spokesperson confirmed that the company had signed a voluntary, enforceable undertaking with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), for alleged breaches of the Spam Act relating to mobile marketing.

“VHA is committed to complying with the Spam Act, and to working with ACMA to ensure its customers are protected,” the spokesperson said. “Mobile advertising is an exciting new platform and VHA looks forward to continuing to work with our advertisers, to realise the potential of this emerging medium.”

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