20 May, 2018 : BT fined by ICO for sending marketing emails without consent. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined British Telecommunications plc (BT) £77,000 after the company was discovered to have sent almost 5 million nuisance emails to its customers. The ICO investigation found that BT had broken the law, by sending direct marketing emails without customers’ consent. Steve Eckersley, the ICO’s Head of Enforcement, said:
Organisations have a responsibility to ensure they are acting within the law. Where they do not, the ICO can and will take action. This particular investigation was prompted by a concerned member of the public. We investigated the matter and uncovered the full extent of this activity which shows how important it is for people to report nuisance emails.
4.9 million emails were sent to customers between December 2015 and November 2016. The emails contained content which promoted three charities; BT ‘My Donate’, Giving Tuesday and Stand up to Cancer. During the investigation, BT admitted the emails for Giving Tuesday and Stand up to Cancer were unlawful, but disagreed that the emails relating to My Donate constituted direct marketing. The ICO found that all of the emails sent constituted marketing and were not simply ‘service messages’. These messages were found to have been delivered to recipients who had not given the necessary consent and were therefore sent in breach of regulation 22 of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (2003). The Information Commissioner found that although BT did not deliberately break the rules, it should have been aware of the risks and the company failed to take reasonable steps to prevent them. BT is the latest UK company to be fined by ICO. Earlier this month (June 2018) the Information Commissioner’s office fined Yahoo £250,000 over a data breach, following a cyber attack which occured in 2014. Read more