Spam texters face £250k in fines as watchdog flexes new powers

Spam texters face £250k in fines as watchdog flexes new powers

Summary: The UK's Information Commissioner's Office gained new enforcement powers around electronic marketing regulations last year, and is now set to exercise them for the first time.

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Two spam texters are in line for fines totalling more than £250,000, in the first exercising of powers given to the UK's Information Commissioner's Office last year.

The as-yet-unnamed individuals will have to pay the fines unless they prove during the next four weeks that their actions were legal, the ICO said on Monday.

"It would be the first time we've issued a financial penalty for breaches of electronic marketing regulations," a spokesman for the data protection watchdog told ZDNet.

In a statement, ICO operations chief Simon Entwistle said the public was "increasingly concerned about the illegal marketing texts and calls".

"These are often made by rogue companies claiming to offer payouts for accidents a person has never had or PPI claims that they are not necessarily entitled to," he added. "The law states that individuals should not receive unsolicited texts or automated marketing calls unless they have given their permission."

The ICO gained enforcement powers around the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) in 2011. It is able to issue fines of up to £500k for offences under these regulations.

According to the spokesman, the two individuals involved in this case were both linked to the same company, but "the way the company is structured leaves the individuals responsible".

Topics: Security, United Kingdom

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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3 comments
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  • I know that company

    Full of absolutely rude staff who insult you, your family. And if you're female, threaten to rape you.

    I kid you not.

    They start off by saying "Hi, we are here to refund you the money from the PPI you had".

    That is their opening line. If you explain you can easily claim the money back yourself if you actually had taken out PPI in the first place, that's when they become abusive. And I mean to the point where the whole bloody lot should be sent to prison.

    Fining people for white collar crime isn't good enough. Prison is the only solution.
    Bozzer
  • How do we report them?

    I have to leave my phone on and within range for work. Over the last few months I have been woken at all hours of the night by these infernal texts. I have kept them in order to report them, but have no idea how this is done.
    Andrew Meredith
  • But after all these years...

    ...still not a single fine for calls made to land lines registered with the Telephone Preference Service.
    ICO can fine £5k for each instance. That's a million quid a year just from the unsolicited calls I get.
    RobSheffield