A Manchester firm that made cold calls prompting more than 1,000 complaints from members of the public has been fined £80,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Staff at MyIML telephoned people, many of whom were registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), to try and sell solar panels and other green energy saving equipment.

The ICO, a UK-wide regulator based in Wilmslow, began making enquiries into MyIML’s practices after receiving a large number of complaints about the firm in 2013.

The company, based in Manchester city centre, told the ICO it purchased the data it used to make the calls from a third party. The ICO informed the company this was no excuse for making calls to TPS subscribers and and ordered the company to improve its compliance with the law.

The ICO continued to receive complaints about MyIML from individuals registered with the TPS and a decision has now been made to fine the firm for breaking the rules on marketing calls.

Andy Curry, the ICO’s Group Enforcement Manager, said:

“We received a large number of complaints about MyIML but it is probable these were only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the people left agitated and upset by these calls. We gave this company a chance to change its ways, but it carried on regardless. We have now acted to enforce the law.”

The following are some examples of the complaints made to the ICO about MyIML:

“My wife has MS so finds it hard and painful to get to the phone if I'm not home, so we do not need unwanted calls.”

“I was annoyed as I was waiting a phone call from the hospital this afternoon.”

“I am the carer for a sick 90 year old mother. Calls at this time do tend to be emergencies concerning her.”

“The caller asked for my husband who died of cancer a few months ago.  The same company have called numerous times before and have been told not to call back.”

The enforcement action against MyIML comes as the ICO has fined West Midlands company Direct Security Marketing £70,000, bringing the total fines issued this week to £150,000.

Direct Security Marketing Ltd, based in Dudley, made nearly 40,000 automated calls in just one day in an attempt to sell burglar alarms. Of these, 9,775 were made between 1am and 6am.

Detailed guidance is available on the ICO’s website 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.

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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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;
  • secure; and
  • not transferred to other countries without adequate protection.
  1. 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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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/