Four firms fined £600,000 as ICO bares its teeth again

watchdog-ico2The data watchdog has sunk its gnashers into four more companies which have been found to have used unlawful marketing methods, dishing out penalties of £600,000 in a move which brings the total amount of fines issued in the past week alone to £1m.
Hundreds of complaints from the public about the firms prompted four separate Information Commissioner’s Office investigations, and resulted in Barrington being fined £250,000 for over 15 million automated calls; Newday hit for £230,000 for over 44 million spam emails; Goody Market UK fined £40,000 for 111,367 spam texts and TFLI slapped with £80,000 for over 1.19 million spam texts.
The ICO said all four businesses broke the law by not having people’s agreement to be contacted by them. Organisations should always ensure the language used to signify consent is clear, easy to understand and not hidden away in a privacy policy or small print.
ICO enforcement group manager Andy Curry said: “Firms cannot get away with failing to follow the rules designed to protect people from the irritation and, on occasions, distress nuisance calls, emails and texts cause.
“I would urge anyone bothered by nuisance marketing to report it to us. Your reports help us take action against firms like those we have fined today, putting a stop to the trouble they cause.”
The fines have been welcomed by the DMA, whose head of preference services, compliance and legal John Mitchison said: “We applaud the ICO in its continued efforts against the rogue marketers that do nothing for consumers and give the legitimate industry a bad name. With the new GDPR data laws coming into force in May this year, it’s disappointing to see businesses still not treating consumers with the respect they should. I hope the announcement will act as an effective deterrent to those thinking of breaking the rules in the future.”
Earlier this week, Carphone Warehouse was slapped with a £400,000 fineequalled only by 2016’s TalkTalk penalty – after the cyber-attack of 2015 allowed unauthorised access to the personal data of over 3 million customers and 1,000 employees.
And these fines are likely to be only the tip of the iceberg; in December it was revealed that the ICO is currently investigating over 170 companies over so-called nuisance calls.

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