Only a year ago, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) began enforcing the Privacy Amendment Act 2012 (No. 197, 2012) which included new and improved privacy principles regulating the handling of personal information. Since then numerous companies have been fined for breaching privacy laws, including a well-known Telco. The Australian communications company was fined $10,200 after leaking the information of more than 15,000 customers online (of which 1,257 were active silent line customers).
A Melbourne telemarketing firm has also been fined $20,400 by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for making calls to telephone numbers listed on the Do Not Call Register. The firm had been warned previously in 2013 that their marketing lists may have included numbers on the register. However the business decided to continue using out-of-date data and subsequently paid the price.
These recent cases highlight the need for Australian businesses to ensure that their marketing data is fully compliant with the March 2014 changes to the Privacy Amendment Act, otherwise they risk hefty fines up to $1,700,000.
“Businesses take a significant risk if they call telephone numbers on the register without a legal basis to do so,” states Chris Chapman, ACMA chairman. “The consequences of getting it wrong are serious—from potential penalties, such as this, to reputational damage, which ultimately can be even more financially damaging.”
Rob Cowperthwaite, Director of OmniLead stated:
“One of the benefits in the Omnilead offering is that we talk only to consumers who we have consent to call and speak with. Further to that, we gain permission from the consumer for named brands to contact them about offers and services they actually have asked to hear about. It’s all about doing the ‘right thing by the consumer and the right thing by our client’ to make for a mutually beneficial experience. This can be seen in the high response and conversion rates experienced by our clients.”
As of February 5 2015, more than 10 million Australian numbers have been registered with ADMA’s Do Not Call Register. To put this figure in perspective, this amounts to approximately 67% of Australian residences with fixed-line telephones and 4,300,000+ mobile numbers. It is estimated that 3,600 numbers have been registered daily since the register launched in May 2007. This trend is set to continue, making it imperative that businesses ensure that they don’t get caught making unsolicited telemarketing calls.