Over half the companies which were fined for breaches of electronic marketing law in the past year have yet to cough up, raising further questions about whether the monetary penalties are having any effect – or are even acting as a deterrent – on rogue businesses.
Just before Christmas, the Information Commissioner’s Office made a big play on Twitter of the fact that it had issued 23 monetary penalties under the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulation (PECR) in 2018-19, totalling over £2m.
The tweet, part of a series under #ICOadventcalender, read: “If you receive festive nuisance marketing via email, text or phone report it.”
However, a Freedom of Information request carried out by data protection specialist Tim Turner shows that just ten of the fines have been paid in full, while two have a payment plan in place, two are the subject of appeals and nine are “under recovery”.
While details have not been released about which companies have coughed up and which ones have not, the two appeals are understood to be for Eldon Insurance and Leave EU.
At a hearing in December, the ICO’s legal counsel was forced to admit that its own standards had fallen “well below” expectations following “procedural errors”; a decision is expected in the next few weeks.
However, the latest exposé of non-payers follows a separate FoI request carried out by SMS Works in November last year. It revealed that £7m in fines issued for breaches of both data protection and telemarketing laws in the UK over the past four years remains unpaid; claims management companies – which owe £3.2m – are the worst offenders.
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