Australia's communications regulator has imposed a record $165,000 fine on GraysOnline shopping websites after it sent hundreds of thousands of emails that breached the Spam Act.
Spam is the common term for electronic 'junk mail' - unwanted messages sent to your email account or mobile phone.
This fine is the largest ever handed out by the regulator after the enactment of the Spam Act almost 10 years ago on 12 December 2003.
All marketing-based emails must be opted into by consumers and also include an opt-out system, in accordance with the Spam Act. An investigation by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found Grays had sent out emails to promote its GraysEscape website without an opt-out feature.
Grays argued that it made the decision because it believed this email was not promotional; however, the ACMA found otherwise.
GraysOnline is Australia's leading commercial and industrial auction company, offering a huge range of consumer, industrial and commercial goods, direct from manufacturers and distributors.
As per Julia Cornwell McKean, manager of the ACMA's Unsolicited Communications and Compliance section, GraysOnline sent the email without an "unsubscribe" link to 700,000 Australians. About 300,000 more were further sent to people who had previously withdrawn consent from receiving Grays emails, McKean said.
So far in court, the largest penalty the regulator had ever slapped was $24.25 million on Scott Gregory Phillips along with several others in 2010 after having launched fake dating website profiles to obtain mobile telephone numbers of genuine dating website users.