Home shopping group Easylife has managed to slash its £1.3m fine – imposed by the Information Commissioner’s Office in October last year over the abuse of special category data – by 80% to £250,000 on appeal, and has agreed to pay in full.
The original monetary penalty followed an ICO investigation which found the company was making assumptions about customers’ medical conditions, based on their purchase history, to sell them further health-related products.
The ICO found this involved the processing of special category data by Easylife, and the activity was being conducted without a lawful basis. Easylife has since stopped the unlawful processing of special category data.
Easylife appealed against the fine. Both parties have now reached agreement that the penalty and the ICO’s factual findings stand, but that the amount of the penalty should be reduced. Easylife accepts the ICO’s findings.
The First-tier Tribunal (General Regulatory Chamber) has approved the agreement reached by both parties. However, a separate £130,000 fine issued on October 4 2022 issued to the firm to making over 1.3 million unsolicited direct marketing calls, a breach of the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), was not appealed and has been paid in full.
The company, set up in 1992 by South African national Gregory Caplan, has a number of divisions that sell everyday household items, from support cushions to patio cleaners, although many of its products target the elderly.
Concerns over Easylife’s sharp practices first emerged in 2016 and in 2018 Money Mail contacted Trading Standards after being inundated with complaints from dozens of Easylife customers and concerned relatives.
Information Commisioner John Edwards has been forced to take the massive fine reduction on the chin but claimed: “As a pragmatic and proportionate regulator, my role is to ensure that we protect the public and ensure businesses abide by the law.
“Easylife has confirmed that it has stopped the unlawful processing which formed the basis of the ICO’s concerns. Having considered the amount of the penalty again during the course of the litigation, in light of the issues raised by Easylife, I considered that a reduction was appropriate.”
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