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Uber cops $412,500 ACMA fine for spam emails

Rideshare operator Uber was fined for failing to include an unsubscribe option on millions of emails.

user icon David Hollingworth
Fri, 27 Oct 2023
Uber cops $412,500 ACMA fine for spam emails
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On January 2023, Uber sent more than 2 million emails to its customers, advertising a home delivery booze service.

However, 500,000 of those went to customers who had already unsubscribed from Uber, and the remainder of the emails did not include any option to unsubscribe. But while Uber believed the emails were “non-commercial” in nature, it felt there was no issue.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), following an investigation into the email campaign, did not agree.

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Nerida O’Loughlin, the chair of the ACMA, believes it was simply “unacceptable” that Uber lacked the systems to work out which of its emails were commercial and which were not.

On top of that, customers must consent to receive marketing emails sent to them, according to the Spam Act.

“In this case, an avoidable error has led to more than 2 million messages being sent without a way for people to unsubscribe,” O’Loughlin said in a statement. “This error was compounded by the fact that half a million of those messages were sent to people who had previously opted out.”

“Consumers are fed up with their wishes not being respected. People rightly expect to have choice over who contacts them for marketing purposes.

“We are particularly concerned about direct marketing that involves gambling, alcohol and ‘buy-now, pay-later’ products and services that may lead to significant harm for people in vulnerable circumstances,” O’Loughlin said.

The ACMA will take “strong action” if Uber fails to comply.

The most recent target of the ACMA’s ire was Ticketek, which was fined more than $500,000 for similar offences earlier this month.

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