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The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued Concept Car Credit Limited with an enforcement notice after the company was found to have sent out hundreds of thousands of spam text messages.
The ICO based the sanction on Data Protection legislation for breaching regulations under the EU Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulation (PECR).
The nuisance texts were considered by the ICO as “unsolicited” because the recipients had not agreed to receive such correspondence. The PECR prohibits companies sending out spam messages this way as a method of direct marketing unless an individual has consented to it.
Companies need to first seek permission before sending individuals marketing adverts and newsletters. This can be achieved by asking for explicit permission, or if the individual chooses to sign up to receive this type of information. In this case, Concept Car Credit couldn’t prove they had such consent from the circa 336,000 recipients.
Concept Car Credit has been issued with a £40,000 fine for their behaviour. The ICO justifies the fine as a penalty for the method in which Concept Car Credit reportedly misused the information they controlled.
Mr Eckersley, Head of Enforcement at the ICO, said:
“The mass sending of over 300,000 marketing text messages without following the rules is simply not on. There’s no excuse for getting it wrong and intruding into people’s everyday lives with spam texts.”
In addition to the fine, the enforcement notice issued by the ICO required CCC to “neither transmit, nor instigate the transmission of, unsolicited communications for the purposes of direct marketing by means of electronic mail unless the recipient of the electronic mail has previously notified Concept Car Credit Limited that he consents for the time being to such communications being sent by, or at the instigation of Concept Car Credit Limited”.
Essentially, Concept Car Credit cannot send such texts to individuals unless they agree to receive them. Concept Car Credit has been found to have misused information they had access to, and whilst they could contact individuals specifically about their cars, there was no authorisation for these texts to be sent.
Concept Car Credit will do well to comply with the ICO’s enforcement notice to avoid further punishment. This goes to show that companies need to be more careful about how they conduct direct marketing to their target consumers. Most of us receive annoying and unwarranted texts and emails from pushy companies, but how many of us report it? When companies send out thousands of nuisance texts and emails, it can cause a lot collective disruption.
Under the U.K’s data protection rules and principles, our information should be held securely and only used in an authorised and legitimate manner. Hopefully, this sanction from the ICO will serve as a warning to other companies and businesses who want to advertise themselves by texting hundreds of thousands of individuals without proper consent.
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