Price comparison site sent out marketing emails to customers who had opted out
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined price comparison website Moneysupermarket.com £80,000 for spamming 7.1 million customers.
The site incurred the wrath of the UK’s data protection watchdog after sending out a mass of marketing emails over a ten day period to customers that had previously opted-out of being contacted in that way.
Moneysupermarket claimed that the emails were just providing updates on Terms and Conditions, but the ICO deemed that ignoring customer opt-outs in this way was against the law.
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Moneysupermarket sent the emails between 30 November and 10 December 2016 in an attempt to persuade customers to opt-in to receiving marketing emails, a move which both they and the ICO took exception to.
“Organisations can’t get around the law by sending direct marketing dressed up as legitimate updates,” said ICO Head of Enforcement Steve Eckersley. “When people opt out of direct marketing, organisations must stop sending it, no questions asked, until such time as the consumer gives their consent. They don’t get a chance to persuade people to change their minds.”
“Emails sent by companies to consumers under the guise of ‘customer service’, checking or seeking their consent, is a circumvention of the rules and is unacceptable. We will continue to take action against companies that choose to ignore the rules.”
The ICO has made it clear in recent months that it is prepared to come down hard on those who breach data protection regulations.
In May it slapped Keurboom Communications with a record-breaking £400,000 fine for carrying out nearly 100 million nuisance calls and recently ruled that the data sharing agreement between the Royal Free NHS Trust and Google-owned DeepMind was illegal.
This strong stance has generally been well received, most recently by trade association TechUK, which praised the ICO for its ‘strong and ambitious’ strategy ahead of Brexit and the incoming GDPR.
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