A company that has already been fined for making nuisance calls has now been prosecuted in a criminal court for continuing to break the law.
Direct Choice Home Improvements Limited was given a £50,000 civil monetary penalty by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in March 2016. It was also issued with a formal Enforcement Notice, requiring it to cease contacting people registered with the Telephone Preference Service.
However, the ICO continued to receive complaints and reports about unsolicited marketing calls from the firm, and Direct Choice has now been prosecuted under the ICO’s criminal enforcement powers for breaching the notice.
Nobody from the company appeared when the case was heard at Swansea Magistrates’ Court and an offence under s47 of the Data Protection Act 1998 was proved in absence. Direct Choice, based in Llansamlet, Swansea, was fined £400 and was also ordered to pay £364.08 and a victim surcharge of £40.
ICO Head of Enforcement Steve Eckersley said:
“This firm had already been fined by the ICO and given an Enforcement Notice, so they had no excuse whatsoever for continuing to make nuisance calls.
“Companies need to know that we will be on their case and will use all the tools at our disposal if they decide to flout the law and ignore the legal rights of citizens not to be harassed by unsolicited marketing.”
Criminal penalties are imposed by the courts and not the ICO. Direct Choice had paid off £40,500 of its previous civil fine. The ICO has recently been informed that the company has applied to go into liquidation and will be working with the Insolvency Service on recovering the outstanding balance.
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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.