19 January 2009

Spam by Optus?

Optus has been issued with $110,000 worth of infringment notices pursuant to the Australian Spam Act 2003. When the Spam Act was introduced I predicted that it would do nothing to prevent the proliferation of spam throughout the world, and so far I've been right, despite gaol terms and millions of USD in fines in the USA. However, Optus has been fined for failing to "provide clear and accurate sender identification" for SMS advertising its mobile portal "Optus Zoo" (the sender ID was "966" which on the phone keypad spells "Zoo"). Any Optus mobile subscriber would be aware of the product, which is largely free to Optus users.

Now, I really don't like spam, but this would have to be the most marginal infringement I have ever seen. As a result, my home telecom provider now has to recoup $110,000 after tax from its customers somehow. Yet I have received genuinely nasty SMS spam (which I have reported and followed up with that carrier) and despite being a follower of such things I am not aware of a prosecution. Admittedly, ACMA did take another company to task, EMX Pty Limited, which advertises "health and other products in mens magazines..." That settlement was for an undertaking and $10,000. However, the Optus fines seem to be disproportionate and a bit of a soft target, rather than the spammers that cause real damage, such as those that can run up extraordinary mobile premium service bills without full consent.