ISP Dodo Australia has been slapped with the heftiest fine ever dished out as part of the Do Not Call Register Act: a $147,000 penalty for making unsolicited calls to Australian consumers.
The Do Not Call Register, introduced by the Howard Government, enables Australian residents and households to register their personal numbers on a list enshrined by law as a no-go zone for telemarketers.
ACMA today alleged calls were made to register subscribers on behalf of Dodo Australia via third-party call centres in Manila in the Philippines.
The international location was no excuse, said the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
"If you are in business and hire offshore call centres to make telemarketing calls, you need to be extremely diligent in overseeing what they do," said the regulator's chairman, Chris Chapman. "You can't hide behind offshore call centres, because ultimately the calls they make are your responsibility."
Between July and October 2007, ACMA was inundated with 119 complaints from members of the Do Not Call Register that had received unsolicited calls from Dodo.
Rather than opting to take the ISP to court, the regulator and Dodo have agreed that the ISP should incur the $147,000 penalty and sign off on several undertakings restricting the service provider from attempting such telemarketing campaigns in the future.
Chapman said that while the $147,000 fine was the highest to date, the ISP would have risked far higher costs had ACMA successfully challenged the company in the courts.
Alongside the fine, the undertakings compel Dodo to maintain electronic records of all telemarketing calls the company or any third party acting on its behalf makes over the next three years, and report them on a half-yearly basis to ACMA.
Dodo is also banned from using any offshore call centres to make calls to Australian phone numbers for the three-year period, outside of its current offshore partner, Acquire Asia Pacific Philippines Inc (AAPP), which ACMA made clear was not the third party which caused the fine. The staff of AAPP must be provided a copy of the undertaking and trained by an independent consultant as to the consequences of calling registered users of the Do Not Call Register.
For a further two years beyond the initial three-year period, Dodo has agreed to give ACMA 30 days notice of any agreement the ISP might enter into with an offshore call centre. The same staff training requirements apply.
Dodo also agreed to only make calls through services which include line identification to ensure it doesn't call Do Not Call Register subscribers again.