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Victorian Institute of Technology found in breach of anti-spam laws

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The Victorian Institute of Technology (VIT) has been found to be in breach of Australia’s anti-spam legislation.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) commenced an investigation into VIT’s compliance following a written complaint. In its report, AMCA detailed 6045 unsolicited marketing emails sent by VIT to email addresses purchased from a third party. VIT is said to have sent these emails in September 2021 to promote its courses and ACMA found no evidence to suggest that the receiving consumers of this promotion had provided any prior consent to the marketing. With the anti-spam legislation now being in force for almost 20 years, ACMA held this to be a substantial breach of the Spam Act 2003 (Cth). ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin commented that “educational institutions cannot outsource their compliance obligations if they rely on data provided by third parties. The institution that sends the messages, or that authorises their sending, is responsible for ensuring they have consent”.

In response, VIT has provided a two-year court-enforceable undertaking to the ACMA to ensure compliance with the legislation. VIT has already implemented an ‘unsubscribe or opt-out policy’ for its emails to enable users to stop receiving unwanted marketing content. The undertaking also requires VIT to appoint an independent consultant to review and improve compliance processes as well as provide regular reporting on compliance measures to the ACMA. The ACMA is taking this contravention seriously as over the past 18 months, organisations have paid close to $5 million in penalties for breaching anti-spam legislation. By imposing strict compliance conditions, the ACMA is hoping to deter repeat offenders or such repeat offenders risk court-imposed penalties of up to $1.11 million per day.

For a full reading of the ACMA media release, see here.

Please let us know if you require any advice on the Spam Act.

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