Cold call and spam text firms hit with £2m in fines by the ICO this year
A London firm behind over 156,000 spam texts has been fined £45,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
It brings the total nuisance marketing fines issued by the ICO so far this financial year to £2 million.
An ICO investigation found Hamilton Digital Solutions Limited, on Wenlock Road, London, broke the law which sets out strict rules about sending marketing text messages to members of the public.
Andy Curry, ICO Enforcement Group Manager, said:
“Nuisance marketing, whether it’s by phone call, text or email, frustrates and angers people. It’s thanks to the public telling us about these troublesome messages that we’re able to investigate and fine firms like Hamilton Digital Solutions.
“The law is clear and we’re committed to taking action against those organisations that break the rules, as the £2m in fines we’ve issued since April shows.”
This monetary penalty brings the total issued since April to 20 and is the highest figure ever issued by the ICO at this stage of the financial year. The ICO has another £1.4m fines in the pipeline over the coming months.
Meanwhile, the ICO is also continuing its fight against nuisance marketing directors who try to duck out of fines by putting their firms into liquidation. The ICO is chasing these by working with other regulators such as the Insolvency Service and Claims Management Regulator.
The Insolvency Service has announced it has disqualified Hassim Iqbal, the director of personal injury claims management company Check Point Claims, from being a director for failing to comply with regulations relating to its business. Blackburn-based Check Point Claims £250,000 failed to pay an ICO fine of £250,000 for making 17.5 million nuisance calls.
Mr Curry said:
“We will pursue all options in the event of unpaid fines, and this case shows that directors behind nuisance marketing firms cannot get away with the intrusion and annoyance they cause the public.”
Nuisance calls and spam texts and emails can be reported via the ICO’s website. Mobile phone users can also report spam texts to the GSMA Spam Reporting Service by forwarding the message to 7726.
The ICO has published detailed guidance for companies carrying out marketing – explaining their legal requirements under the Data Protection Act and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. The guidance covers the circumstances in which organisations are able to carry out marketing over the phone, by text, by email, by post or by fax.
On top of the £45,000 fine for Hamilton Digital Solutions, the firm has been ordered by the ICO to stop illegal marketing or face further legal action.
Notes to Editors
- The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
- The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
- The ICO can take action to change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit. The ICO has the power to impose a monetary penalty on a data controller of up to £500,000.
- The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new law which will apply in the UK from 25 May 2018. The Government has confirmed the UK’s decision to leave the EU will not affect the commencement of the GDPR. The Government is introducing measures related to this and wider data protection reforms in a Data Protection Bill.
- The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) sit alongside the Data Protection Act. They give people specific privacy rights in relation to electronic communications. There are specific rules on:
- Civil Monetary Penalties (CMPs) are subject to a right of appeal to the (First-tier Tribunal) General Regulatory Chamber against the imposition of the monetary penalty and/or the amount of the penalty specified in the monetary penalty notice.
- Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
- To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.