The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has issued a formal warning to McDonald's Australia for sending emails which did not meet the requirements of the Spam Act.
An ACMA investigation found that emails sent via the McDonald's Happy Meal website using the 'send to friends' option were sent without ensuring friend's consent. The emails had no unsubscribe option either, which is required under the Act.
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According to ACMA chairman Chris Chapman, the case should alert businesses that they must think carefully before using what he referred to as `friend get friend' marketing. This occurs when a friend promotes a business to people they know via email or social media messages.
"When sending your marketing messages, you must make sure that there is consent from the actual person who is going to receive your message," he said in a statement. "You can't just assume consent has been given."
In response, a McDonald's Australia spokeswoman told CIO Australia that the quick service restaurant takes its compliance obligations "very seriously" and fully respects the finding of the ACMA's investigation.
"The `send to a friend' function was removed from the Happy Meal website in February 2012 and McDonald's has no intention of reinstating the function or any similar functions on its websites," she said in a statement.
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