Unsolicited Contact Continues to Harass Australians; More Control Over Data Needed

By Alfred Bui
Alfred Bui
Alfred Bui
Alfred Bui is an Australian reporter based in Melbourne and focuses on local and business news. He is a former small business owner and has two master’s degrees in business and business law. Contact him at alfred.bui@epochtimes.com.au.
January 18, 2022 Updated: January 19, 2022

Businesses are bombarding Australians with unsolicited contact, causing people to seek more control over the communication that targets them.

According to a survey from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), 98 per cent of respondents confirmed that they had received some form of unsolicited contact in the last six months. However, only one in ten survey participants felt they could control how third-parties use their personal information to market a product or something.

Three in four of the respondents had requested a business to stop all kinds of unsolicited contact, but 59 per cent of them did not see the situation improve after unsubscribing. In addition, 56 per cent had some forms of difficulties withdrawing their consent.

An ACMA spokesperson said the data from the survey showed that Australians want their privacy protected.

“Businesses need to respect the choices consumers make and comply with spam and telemarketing laws,” the spokesperson said. “This undermines confidence in legitimate marketing practices and use of Australia’s telecommunications services.”

The Spam Act 2003 requires businesses to include a functional unsubscribe facility in their marketing messages and proceed with unsubscribe requests within five days.

Over 50 percent of the survey participants felt they rarely or never had control over how businesses use their data for marketing contact. Furthermore, 72 percent would like to have more control over their data.

Meanwhile, 86 percent said they received a scam call in the previous six months, and 40 percent got disturbed by such a call every week.

Among the respondents targeted by unsolicited calls, 69 per cent received communication from an unknown caller, and 61 per cent got calls from businesses. On the other hand, 25 and 23 percent said they received calls from government agencies and political parties or candidates, respectively.

When receiving an unsolicited call, 83 percent of the respondents chose to hang up, and 81 percent checked the number and did not respond. Nevertheless, only 14 percent lodged a complaint.

In dealing with unsolicited text messages, 93 percent of the respondents said they ignored the contract, 84 percent opted to block the number, and 58 percent replied ‘STOP’ to unsubscribe themselves from further communication.

The ACMA spokesperson said that the organisation had collected $1.9 million (US$1.37 million) in infringement notices as a result of its uncompromising attitude toward compliance with spam and telemarketing laws. ACMA issued close to 6,000 compliance alerts during that time.

The government agency has enforced the law against businesses (Optus, Woolworths and Kogan included) for violation.

“We will continue to work with business through our compliance and enforcement activities so that they understand their obligations, particularly around obtaining and relying on consent to market to Australian consumers,” the ACMA spokesperson said.

Alfred Bui
Alfred Bui is an Australian reporter based in Melbourne and focuses on local and business news. He is a former small business owner and has two master’s degrees in business and business law. Contact him at alfred.bui@epochtimes.com.au.