Morrisons supermarket chain fined for flouting customers’ marketing wishes
A national supermarket chain has been fined for breaking the law on how people’s personal information should be treated when sending marketing emails.
An investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) found WM Morrison Supermarkets PLC (“Morrisons”) deliberately sent 130,671 emails to people who had previously opted out of receiving marketing related to their Morrisons More card.
The emails, sent in October and November 2016, were titled ‘Your Account Details’ and invited customers to change their marketing preferences to start receiving money off coupons, extra More Points and the ‘latest news’ from Morrisons.
Deputy Commissioner Simon Entwisle said:
“It is vital that the public can trust companies to respect their wishes when it comes to how their personal information is used for marketing.
“These customers had explicitly told Morrisons they didn’t want marketing emails about their More card. Morrisons ignored their decision and for that we’ve taken action.”
Morrisons, headquartered in Bradford, has been fined £10,500 for breaking the Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations (PECR).
A new data protection law comes into force next year that sets a high bar for the consent organisations must obtain from customers before using their personal data for marketing.
The ICO has published detailed guidance for firms carrying out direct marketing by phone, text, email, post or fax.
Notes to Editors
1. The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new law that will replace the Data Protection Act 1998 and will apply in the UK from 25 May 2018. The government has confirmed that the UK’s decision to leave the EU will not affect the commencement of the GDPR.
5. Anyone who processes personal information must comply with eight principles of the Data Protection Act, which make sure that personal information is:
fairly and lawfully processed;
processed for limited purposes;
adequate, relevant and not excessive;
accurate and up to date;
not kept for longer than is necessary;
processed in line with your rights;
not transferred to other countries without adequate protection.
6. 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:
marketing calls, emails, texts and faxes;
cookies (and similar technologies);
keeping communications services secure; and
customer privacy as regards traffic and location data, itemised billing, line
identification, and directory listings.
We aim to help organisations comply with PECR and promote good practice by offering advice and guidance. We will take enforcement action against organisations that persistently ignore their obligations.
7. 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.
8. Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
9. To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns/