HomeInsightsInformation Commissioner’s Office fines two companies total of £83,000 for breach of rules on sending marketing emails


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An investigation by the ICO found that the airline, Flybe, deliberately sent more than 3.3 million emails to people who had told them that they did not want to receive marketing emails from the company.

The emails, sent in August 2016, with the title “Are your details correct?” advised recipients to amend any out-of-date information and update any marketing preferences. The email also said that by updating their preferences, customers would be entered into a prize draw.

The ICO fined the airline £70,000 for breaching the Privacy and Electronic Communication (European Directive) Regulations 2003.

A separate ICO investigation into Honda Motor Europe Ltd revealed that the car company had sent 289,790 emails aiming to clarify certain customers’ choices for receiving marketing communications.

The company believed that the emails were not classed as marketing, but were customer service emails to help the company comply with data protection law. However, it could not provide evidence that the customers had ever consented to receiving this type of email. The ICO fined Honda £13,000.

Steve Eckersley, ICO Head of Enforcement, said: “Both companies sent emails asking for consent to future marketing. In doing so they broke the law. Sending emails to determine whether people want to receive marketing without the right consent, is still marketing and it is against the law.

The ICO recognises that companies will be reviewing how they obtain customer consent for marketing to comply with stronger data protection legislation coming into force in May 2018. However, Mr Eckersley warned: “Businesses must understand they can’t break one law to get ready for another.” To read the ICO’s news release, click here.