British Telecommunications (BT) has been fined £77,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for sending nearly five million nuisance emails to customers.
Between December 2015 and November 2016, BT sent out 4.9 million emails to customers who had not consented to direct marketing emails, promoting the BT ‘My Donate’ platform, Giving Tuesday and Stand up to Cancer.
BT accepted that emails for Giving Tuesday and Stand up to Cancer were unlawful but disputed the assessment that My Donate emails were direct marketing. However, the Commissioner found that all of the emails constituted marketing rather than service messages. This meant that their sending was in breach of regulation 22 of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (2003).
Eckersley, Head of Enforcement at the ICO, said:
“Organisations have a responsibility to ensure they are acting within the law. Where they do not, the ICO can and will take action. This particular investigation was prompted by a concerned member of the public. We investigated the matter and uncovered the full extent of this activity which shows how important it is for people to report nuisance emails.”
The Commissioner’s finding was that although BT was not aware that the sending of these emails was illegal, it should have known the risks and it failed to take reasonable steps to prevent them.