APF congratulates the Australian Communications Media Authority (ACMA) on its recent action against Dodo Australia Pty Ltd in respect of breaches of the Do Not Call Register legislation.
Dodo was forced to pay a penalty of $147,400 after ACMA found that Dodo had made telemarketing calls (through an offshore call centre) to numbers on the national Do Not Call Register.
APF sees this as an excellent example of the effective enforcement of privacy regulation. The fine will act as a warning to other companies and will boost confidence in the Do Not call Register.
This type of enforcement action is all too rare in Australia, and contrasts with the softly softly approach taken by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, who has not issued any s.52 Complaint Determinations since 2004 and only 8 in total in 20 years.
APF also welcomes the decision by ACMA to name the company and to publish the full details of the case and the undertakings provided by Dodo regarding their future conduct. Again, this is in contrast to the approach taken by many regulators and ombudsman schemes, who commonly leave consumers in the dark about the identity of offenders and the details of the case.
Naming serious offenders has two benefits. It informs both the market and consumers about organisations that are not playing fair or are straying from the level playing field; and it also works as a cost-effective adjunct to formal enforcement, because it encourages other organisations that are tempted to cheat to factor in the reputational costs of being caught. These may be even more significant then the direct financial cost of fines.
APF supports the Do Not Call Register which now holds the telephone numbers of more than 2.5 million households who are sick of telemarketing. Even though checking the register is mandatory for Australian businesses, the scheme still attracts an amazing 28,000 complaints a year - an indication of why effective enforcement of privacy regulation is required in Australia.
APF supports an extension of the Do Not Call register to include small business numbers and faxes, currently under consideration by ACMA, and also calls for the removal of the many exemptions, including for political parties.