Uber Australia has paid a hefty fine following an investigation into spam emails to customers.
Following on from similar action taken against Ticketek, DoorDash and CommBank by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), the rideshare and food delivery company was fined $412,500 for breaching Australian spam laws.
The investigation found Uber sent more than two million marketing emails to customers on a single day in January as part of an advertising campaign for an alcohol home delivery service.
Those emails were without an unsubscribe facility and were sent out to more than 500,000 customers who had previously unsubscribed.
The ACMA investigation found the breaches occurred because Uber mischaracterised the emails as non-commercial.
ACMA chair Nerida O'Loughlin labelled it unacceptable for a company like Uber, which conducts high volume marketing, not to have robust systems in place to consistently and accurately categorise consumer messages.
"In this case, an avoidable error has led to more than two 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."
In a statement Uber said the emails had been sent in mistake.
"Simply put, we made a mistake in sending out these marketing emails, and we worked collaboratively with ACMA to address and resolve it," a spokesperson said.
"We apologise to everyone who was impacted by this oversight. We take seriously our obligations under the Spam Act, and we have introduced additional measures to prevent this from happening again."
The Spam Act requires businesses to have consent before they can send direct electronic marketing messages to consumers.
Businesses must also provide recipients with the option to unsubscribe within messages.
"We are actively monitoring Uber's compliance and will not hesitate to take stronger action if it doesn't comply in the future," O'Loughlin said.
"This is a warning to all businesses conducting e-marketing that they should be actively and regularly reviewing their marketing to ensure it is compliant."
"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."
ACMA is cracking down on compliance of the Spam Act, with Australian businesses paying $11 million in spam and telemarketing breach penalties over the last 18 months.