ICO publishes enforcement statistics and consequent action

The ICO’s enforcement statistics, published at the end of January, reveal that the topics that generate most complaints about spam are debt management and payday loans. The ICO uses these statistics to decide in which sectors to start enforcement action. For example, last December, the ICO issued a civil monetary penalty of £175,000 against a payday loans company, First Financial (UK) Limited, for the mass sending of unsolicited SMS messages to consumers.

Similar trends can be seen in the area of marketing calls. While the number of unsolicited marketing calls has dramatically fallen since April 2013 due to action by regulators, consumer and industry groups, the ICO aims to identify the offending industry sectors. Calls that generated most complaints were about accident claims and energy. The ICO says that it will monitor companies against which many complaints have been made, but removes them from the monitoring list when there is improvement in compliance. Currently, the ICO is monitoring British Sky Broadcasting and four other companies.

In terms of cookies, the ICO has been monitoring the 200 most visited UK websites, and has seen much improvement since November 2012. It has been focusing on sites that are doing nothing to raise awareness of cookies, or fail to get their users’ consent.