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We have all answered the phone only to be greeted by a nuisance caller who claims that you have had an accident, wants to sell you something or knows your personal details. Most people have encountered nuisance calls and may feel there is nothing in place to prevent these irritating and sometimes distressing phone calls.

However, in 2015/2016, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) imposed penalties of almost £2 million for unsolicited marketing call offences. The ICO also imposed a penalty of £130,000 for a breach of the first data protection principle, the first penalty of its kind, for the sale of customer details (without their informed consent) to third parties. Changes in the rules on nuisance marketing have given the ICO greater scope to levy fines.

A recent example demonstrates how businesses are increasingly being held accountable for this offence. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued a company with a monetary penalty notice for £180,000 for jointly instigating at least 6,381 automated marketing calls.

Marketers must comply with the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003

Marketers should familiarise themselves with the applicable law on data protection and marketing as the penalties for not complying include:

  • Serious financial, commercial and reputational issues for the business, including possible criminal penalties.
  • A negative impact on the ability of the business to use databases for marketing purposes.
  • Reputational loss and the potential to be barred from trade bodies.

In this case, the ICO took into account a number of factors, including the company’s contravention of regulations 19 of the Privacy Regulations 2003 as it was using an automated calling system without prior consent and regulation 24 of the Privacy Regulations 2003 as it did not identify the person who was sending or instigating the automated marketing calls, nor did it provide the address of a person or a telephone number on which they could be contacted free of charge.

The Privacy Regulations 2016 were not taken into account, as the unlawful marketing pre-dates their coming into force on 16 May 2016, but this decision serves as a reminder of CLI requirements.

If you need advice on any aspect of data protection or how you are using your customers’ data, please call Bray & Bray. We have three main offices across Leicestershire, feel free to phone or pop in to talk to our solicitors.

Leicester 0116 254 8871

Hinckley 01455 639 900

Market Harborough 01858 467 181