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The GDPR has effectively rewritten the Data Protection Directive, the mainstay of current data protection regime. From May 2018, the GDPR will have a significant effect on your responsibilities when storing data and the uses you can put data to. All businesses are affected, particularly where they use customer details for marketing purposes or exchange them with other businesses in any way. Failure to get this right can result in fines, or worse.
In this the tenth of our series covering this significant change to the law, we look in more detail at some recent fines from the ICO
Nuisance calls to TPS Subscribers
Two firms in West Yorkshire have been fined by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for calling people registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).
Bradford-based Energy Saving Centre Ltd, which offers services such as replacement windows and doors and guttering, made seven million calls over a seven-month period without screening them against the TPS register. The ICO has fined the firm £250,000 because at least 34,000 of these calls were made to TPS subscribers.
In a separate case, Alex Goldthorpe, trading as Approved Green Energy Solutions, was fined £150,000 for making over 300,000 calls to TPS subscribers between April and July 2017.
It is against the law to call someone registered with the TPS unless that person has given their consent to receive calls from that company.
When commenting on the fines the ICO stated
“We are committed to taking strong action against firms calling people registered with the TPS, as these fines show.”
As an indication of the degree of seriousness of this issue these fines are 20 times the fine presented to Honda for marketing without permission. No contact should be made to customer who have withdrawn their permission for marketing calls. As a minimum all motor dealers should be screening their calls against the TPS and should also check their own records to see if they have ben approached directly.
Royal Mail Group Ltd has been fined £12,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) after sending more than 300,000 nuisance emails.
In July 2017, the company sent emails to 327,014 people who had already opted out of receiving direct marketing. The emails outlined a price drop for parcels, but the company did not have the recipients’ consent to send them, and so broke the law.
The ICO launched an investigation after receiving a complaint from a member of the public, who had received a marketing email from Royal Mail despite having opted out.
During the investigation, Royal Mail claimed the emails were a service rather than marketing; informing customers of a price drop.
The Commissioner found that the emails sent constituted marketing and not simply a service message, therefore breaching regulation 22 of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).
Whilst it is clear that the ICO will take a broad view of marketing without consent, what is more interesting is that when compared with Nuisance calls to TPS Subscribers above the ICO clearly fines at a much lower level. Whilst members should never send marketing information unless they can establish a clear lawful ground for doing so, where there is any uncertainty at all email marketing will carry a reduced risk
GDPR Is Coming
Lastly as you are all aware the GDPR will be in force from 25 May 2018 and the ICO have started its final push for public awareness. If you have not already you should review their website at https://ico.org.uk/
The ICO have compiled particular guidance for businesses with 10 or fewer employees which can be found at https://ico.org.uk/about-the-ico/news-and-events/news-and-blogs/2018/03/making-data-protection-your-business-campaign-launched-to-help-micro-businesses-prepare-for-the-new-data-protection-law/
The above is a very broad overview of one aspect of the GDPR. The legislation and guidance is still developing in the weeks and months in the run up to their implementation. This advice is general in nature and we will endeavor to keep you informed through regular articles and case studies.
Remember, as an RMI member you have access to the RMI legal advice line, as well as a number of industry experts for your assistance. Should you require further information in respect of the article above, contact the legal advice line at any stage for advice and assistance as appropriate.
Motor Industry Legal Services
Motor Industry Legal Services (MILS Solicitors) provides fully comprehensive legal advice and representation to UK motor retailers for one annual fee. It is the only law firm in the UK which specialises in motor law and motor trade law. MILS currently advises over 1,000 individual businesses within the sector as well as the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI) and its members.