A Kent pensions company has had its fingers burned for relying on “misleading” legal advice after being scolded by the Information Commissioner’s Office for sending nearly two million direct marketing emails without consent.
An ICO investigation found that Grove Pension Solutions of Sevenoaks, in Kent had instructed a marketing agent to use third-party email providers to carry out hosted marketing campaigns that advertised the company’s services.
The company had sought specialist advice from a data protection consultancy as well as independent legal advice about the use of hosted marketing.
However, the advice proved to be inaccurate and the ICO found that the marketing activity – some 1,942,010 emails – fell foul of the regulations and fined the firm £40,000.
ICO director of investigations and intelligence Andy White said: “Spam email uses people’s personal data unlawfully, filling up their inboxes and promoting products and services which they don’t necessarily want.
“We acknowledge that Grove Pension Solutions took steps to check that their marketing activity was within the law, but received misleading advice. However, ultimately, they are responsible for ensuring they comply with the law and they were in breach of it.
“The ICO is here to provide businesses with guidance about electronic marketing and data protection, free of charge. The company could have contacted us and avoided this fine.”
The Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) state that organisations cannot generally send marketing emails unless the recipient has given them their consent to receive them. This applies equally to organisations using third parties to send direct marketing on their behalf.
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