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Glasgow company fined £90,000 as ICO tackles nuisance calls

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News release: 20 March 2013


The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has served a monetary penalty of £90,000 to a company that has blighted the public with thousands of unwanted marketing calls.

DM Design, based in Glasgow, has been the subject of nearly 2,000 complaints to the ICO and the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). The company consistently failed to check whether individuals had opted out of receiving marketing calls – in clear breach of the law - and responded to just a handful of the complaints received.

In one instance an employee refused to remove a complainant’s details from the company’s system and instead threatened to “continue to call at more inconvenient times like Sunday lunchtime”.

The monetary penalty is the first the ICO has issued for a serious breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) relating to live marketing calls. This latest penalty comes after the joint owners of a company, which was responsible for sending hundreds of thousands of spam texts, received penalties totalling £440,000 in November last year. 

The ICO has informed two more companies that it is intending to impose significant penalties over breaches of the law, with a final decision likely in the coming weeks. A further ten companies are subject to ongoing investigation for cold-calling and sending spam text messages.

Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, said:

“Today’s action sends out a clear message to the marketing industry that this menace will not be tolerated. This company showed a clear disregard for the law and a lamentable attitude toward the people whose day they were disturbing. This is not good enough.

“This fine will not be an isolated penalty. We know other companies are showing a similar disregard for the law and we’ve every intention of taking further enforcement action against companies that continue to bombard people with unlawful marketing texts and calls.

“All of this work has been made possible thanks to the information we are receiving from the public, which has assisted our investigation team in identifying the companies making these calls.”

View a copy of the DM Design monetary penalty notice

The ICO and OFCOM, who are responsible for regulating silent calls, work closely together and will be publishing an open letter to the marketing industry reminding companies that they must comply with the legal and regulatory measures in place. Failure to do so will lead to enforcement action, with the ICO able to issue penalties of up to £500,000 for serious breaches of the PECR, and OFCOM having the power to issue penalties of up to £2,000,000 over breaches of rules linked to abandoned and silent calls.

The ICO has setup a online reporting tool which people can use to send us the details of any unwanted marketing texts and calls. View the reporting tool, which has already received nearly 140,000 responses since it was setup in March last year.

 

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 is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and produces a monthly e-newsletter.

4. The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 support the Data Protection Act by regulating the use of electronic communications, including live and automated marketing calls and marketing text messages. The ICO has the power to issue monetary penalties up to £500,000 for serious breaches of the regulations.

5. OFCOM is responsible for regulating abandoned and silent calls under the Communications Act 2003. OFCOM has the power to serve persistent offenders with financial penalties up to £2,000,000 pounds.