Credit broker Digitonomy Ltd has been fined £120,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for being responsible for millions of marketing texts sent without proper consent.

Between April 2015 and February 2016 there were 1,464 complaints about the spam messages which encouraged people to apply for loans and directed them to company websites.

An ICO investigation revealed the Chester-based business used affiliate marketing companies to send out over five million messages offering cash loans as part of a marketing campaign. Digitonomy provided examples of the consent wording from the affiliate companies including:

“You consent to us and our trusted partners contacting you by SMS, mail, email, telephone and automated message.”

The law says this type of consent is not enough for sending marketing text messages and that companies must have people’s specific permission. Digitonomy couldn’t prove it had proper consent, which is a breach of the law used to control electronic marketing.

Steve Eckersley, ICO Head of Enforcement said:

“Businesses that rely on direct marketing must be able to confirm that people have given their permission to receive text messages and to comply with the law they must have the evidence to prove it.

“Depending on the word of another company is simply not acceptable and is not an excuse. Digitonomy is paying a hefty price for not meeting its responsibilities.

“We say it over again - any business that has instigated a marketing campaign is responsible for the information involved. Businesses need to get it right or we will take action.”

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. 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).
  1. To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.