ICO fines company £90,000 for PECR breach

In what seems like the start of a campaign to enforce the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined a Glasgow-based kitchen and bedroom design company £90,000 for making nuisance calls.

The ICO says that two more companies are likely to be fined in the coming weeks, and a further ten companies are subject to on-going investigations for cold-calling and sending spam text messages. In November last year, the ICO fined a company £440,000 for sending spam texts.

This current fine is the first one made for cold calling. The company, DM Design, failed to check whether individuals had in fact opted out from receiving marketing calls. The ICO says that the company blighted the public with thousands of calls, and that 2,000 complaints were received by the ICO and the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).

DM Design is registered with the ICO. The company downloaded the TPS list after it had received the ICO’s letter enquiring about its data protection practices. The company claimed that it had previously experienced IT problems, which meant that the TPS list had not been merged with their marketing database consisting of old and current customers.

Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, said: “This fine will not be an isolated penalty. We know other companies are showing a similar disregard for the law and we’ve every intention of taking further enforcement action against companies that continue to bombard people with unlawful marketing texts and calls.”

“All of this work has been made possible thanks to the information we are receiving from the public, which has assisted our investigation team in identifying the companies making these calls.”

David Smith, Deputy Commissioner and Director of Data Protection at the ICO will speak on The ICO's enforcement practice now and preparing for future powers at "Bridging Privacy Cultures", PL&B's 26th Annual International Conference at Queens' College, Cambridge 1-3 July 2013.