Privacy Advisor

UK—ICO to issue six-figure penalties for spam-texting

November 1, 2012

Davidson_BrianBy Brian Davidson

The ICO confirmed on 1 October that is set to issue two fines totalling over 250,000 pounds to two illegal marketers responsible for distributing millions of spam texts.

The action is the culmination of a six-month initiative where the ICO has been asking members of the public to report calls or texts received from unknown senders via an online survey. The ICO has reported that it has received almost 30,000 responses and is working to link this information to companies with a view to possible enforcement action.

This information means the ICO is poised to issue two monetary penalty notices to two individuals that have broken the law. The recipients will have 28 days to respond and prove they were complying with the law; otherwise, the penalty notices shall be issued.

Separately, the ICO has issued a fine of approximately 70,000 pounds against a social care charity, Norwood Ravenswood Limited), after sensitive information about the care of four children was lost after being left outside a London home. The information, which has not been recovered, included details of neglect and abuse suffered by the children, along with information about their birth families.

In a further enforcement development, Greater Manchester Police received a fine of approximately 120,000 pounds for a failure to take appropriate measures against the loss of personal data stored on unencrypted memory sticks. The enforcement action was prompted by the theft of a memory stick containing sensitive personal data from an officer's home. The device, which had no password protection, contained details of more than 1,000 people with links to serious crime investigations.

Brian Davidson is a privacy and information advisor in Field Fisher Waterhouse's Privacy & Information Law Group. He may be reached at