UK: ICO fines EE £100,000 over unsolicited marketing messages

The UK mobile carrier, EE, has been fined by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The firm will now have to pay a fine of £100,000 due to it sending more than 2.5 million unsolicited marketing messages to customers. The fine was levied against EE because the ICO’s rules state that such messages can only be sent if the customer has consented to them.

The messages were sent in two batches in 2018, those who ignored the first message were sent a second one later on. In the messages, EE encouraged customers to start using the My EE app to manage their account and upgrade their phone. They were sent as service messages, according to EE, but the ICO said they broke electronic marketing rules because they included direct marketing.

In a statement, Andy White, ICO Director of Investigations stated that companies breaking these rules could be fined up to £500,000. The ICO did conclude that EE didn’t deliberately set out to break the rules so this is the likely reason that the firm was only fined a fifth of the maximum possible. Commenting on the news, White said:

”These were marketing messages which promoted the company’s products and services. The direct marketing guidance is clear: if a message that contains customer service information also includes promotional material to buy extra products for services, it is no longer a service message and electronic marketing rules apply.

EE Limited were aware of the law and should have known that they needed customers’ consent to send them in line with the direct marketing rules.”

According to the ICO, EE has room to appeal the decision, however, if it loses the appeal it’ll have to cough up the money which will be paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund. It’s unclear right now whether EE plans to appeal the decision or not.

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