ICO Fines Companies £495 million Over Nuisance Messages

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has announced fines of nearly half a million pounds to well-known companies. Between these companies they have been found to be responsible for over 354 million nuisance messages following complaints from the public.

It was revealed that the three UK companies, We Buy Any Car, Saga and Sports Direct did not have permission from people to send them marketing emails. We Buy any car was fined £200,000 for sending over 191 million emails and 3.6 million texts. Saga Services Ltd and Saga Personal Finance were fined £150,000 and £75,000 respectively for more than 157 million emails. Sports Direct were fined £70,000 for sending 2.5 million emails. The Head of Investigations at ICO, Andy Curry said, “these companies should know better”.

We Buy Any Car had sent customers emails following a request for an online valuation. While the initial email to the customer was sent lawfully it was the subsequent emails which were not. It was deemed that the company did not have consent from the customer to send them marketing material. 

Saga Services Ltd (SSL) and Saga Personal Finance (SPF) used data from partner companies and their affiliates. They contacted people who did not give their consent to be contacted. Both companies claimed their communications were lawful under the “indirect” or “implied consent” legislation. However, the ICO found that this was not pertinent and fined the companies. They were also issued Enforcement Notices ordering them to stop any illegal direct marketing with 30 days or face court action. 

Sports Direct contacted people as part of a re-engagement campaign with people they had not contacted for a long time. They were unable to provide any evidence that they had consent to contact these people. 

With the fines totalling £495 million Andy Curry took the opportunity to issue a reminder to companies: “companies that want to send direct marketing messages must first have people’s consent. And people must understand what they are consenting to when they hand over their personal information. The same rules apply even when companies use third parties to send messages on their behalf.”

Don’t get caught out when it comes to direct marketing laws for your company. Value Privacy can help to advise and ensure that your companies processes do everything they should be. Contact us for a confidential meeting about your needs.  

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