The Information Commissioner’s Office has warned companies supplying dodgy marketing data that they are firmly in its sites after naming and shaming – as well as fining – a list broker which sold on illegally gathered information for a campaign.
The move opens up a new offensive in the regulator’s battle to stamp out sharp practices in the sector with its insistence that it will now come down hard on companies selling marketing lists containing the details of people have not been told how their information will be used.
In the past, data suppliers have routinely escaped censure as it has always has been the responsibility of the company which runs the direct marketing activity to ensure the lists they source are compliant.
But today’s ruling appears to change all that.
An ICO investigation found The Data Supply Company had sold more than 580,000 records containing people’s details, which resulted in 21,000 spam texts being sent by the firm who bought the information, Rainbow (UK), based in Barnet. Rainbow was fined £20,000 last year.
ICO head of enforcement Steve Eckersley said: “The unlawful trade in personal data leads directly to the sending of spam texts and the making of nuisance calls. The people whose details were traded by this company would have been unaware of who they would be passed on to. That’s unacceptable.
“Whether your company is collecting, using, buying or selling people’s personal information, it must be clear and open with them about what it plans to do with their details. Fail to do so and your firm is breaking the law and risking a hefty fine.”
The Data Supply Company, which has been fined £20,000, bought people’s details from various sources before selling them on to other companies for marketing.
One of the places the firm acquired personal information from was other firms’ websites, where many of the privacy notices were too general and unspecific to comply with the law. For example, one read: “We may share your information with carefully selected third parties where they are offering products or services that we believe will be of interest to you.”
The company has told the ICO it is no longer trading in personal data.
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