The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has today served monetary penalties totalling £440,000 on two owners of a marketing company which has plagued the public with millions of unlawful spam texts over the past three years.
This is the first time that the ICO has used its power to issue a monetary penalty for a serious breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) since these powers were approved in January 2012.
The ICO is also currently considering issuing penalties to three other companies believed to be acting in breach of the regulations as the office continues its crackdown on the illegal marketing industry.
Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, said:
“The public have told us that they are distressed and annoyed by the constant bombardment of illegal texts and calls and we are currently cracking down on the companies responsible, using the full force of the law.
“In March we set up a survey on the ICO website so people can tell us about any unwanted texts and calls they have been receiving. So far we have received over 60,000 responses. We know the majority of these messages and calls have been made by companies who try to remain anonymous in the hope they can profit by selling personal information to claims management companies and other marketing organisations. We are using the information provided by the public to identify those responsible.”
Today’s news comes after an 18-month investigation into the activities of Tetrus Telecoms. The company is jointly owned by Christopher Niebel and Gary McNeish. The ICO became aware of Tetrus Telecoms after receiving intelligence in May 2011 that the company was sending huge volumes of unsolicited text messages from offices in Stockport and Birmingham, without the consent of the recipient and without identifying the sender – both of which are legal requirements under the PECR. Any replies were then used to generate leads that were sold to other companies at a considerable profit.
The ICO’s investigation included raids at the company’s Stockport premises, in August 2011, and the Manchester home of Niebel, in February this year. The evidence obtained showed Tetrus was using unregistered pay as you go sim cards to send out as many as 840,000 illegal text messages a day with an income of £7,000 – £8,000 a day.
View more at http://www.ico.gov.uk/news/latest_news/2012/spam-texters-fined-nearly-half-a-million-pounds-28112012.aspx?goback=.gde_4356343_member_190956781