The Federal Court has awarded $75,000 in penalties against Canberra-based internet service provider Bytecard after finding it breached the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman scheme.
The court also imposed a penalty of $37,500 on Bytecard’s director, Brian Morris.
Morris founded NetSpeed in 1991.
The court found on five occasions between 2006 and 2011, Bytecard failed to comply with TIO determinations and subsequent directions from the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
Funds were repaid to customers only after the ACMA commenced Federal Court proceedings last year.
Justice Foster ordered Bytecard to implement a compliance program and for Morris to attend a compliance seminar with respect to their TIO scheme obligations.
Bytecard and Morris are also required to pay the ACMA’s costs.
Justice Foster said Bytecard’s contraventions were very serious as the provision of telecommunications services is an important feature of modern society.
“The need for those organisations which deal directly with the public to behave in a manner which complies with relevant statutory provisions, the terms of their contracts and appropriate professional standards is obvious,” he says,
ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said in a statement that the ACMA will take regulatory action when required against non-compliant telecommunications companies.
“Justice Foster’s decision serves as a reminder to telecommunications service providers of whatever business model and wherever they sit in the value chain that compliance with the TIO scheme is not negotiable,” he said.
Bytecard has traded as NetSpeed Internet Communications and Leading Edge Internet and in September last year acquired Apex Telecoms and the TransACT and dial-in subscriber bases of CyberOne Internet.
SmartCompany contacted ByteCard through NetSpeed and a spokesperson said the company had no comment.