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BT fined for sending five million spam emails

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Written by: Paloma Kubiak
20/06/2018
Telecoms giant BT has been fined £77,000 for illegally sending nearly five million "nuisance emails" to customers.

An investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) found that BT didn’t have customers’ consent to send direct marketing emails.

It found that between December 2015 and November 2016, 4.9 million emails were sent, promoting three charity initiatives: the BT ‘My Donate’ platform, Giving Tuesday and Stand up to Cancer.

As part of the investigation, BT accepted that emails for two of the campaigns were unlawful but disputed that ‘My Donate’ emails were direct marketing.

But the ICO held that all of the emails were marketing, not just service message, and messages were also sent to those who hadn’t given consent to receive such emails.

While the ICO stated that BT didn’t deliberately break the rules, it said “it should have known the risks” and “it failed to take reasonable steps to prevent them”.

ICO head of enforcement, Steve Eckersley, said: “Organisations have a responsibility to ensure they are acting within the law. Where they do not, the ICO can and will take action. This particular investigation was prompted by a concerned member of the public. We investigated the matter and uncovered the full extent of this activity which shows how important it is for people to report nuisance emails.”

A BT spokesperson, said: “We are disappointed the Information Commissioner’s Office has confirmed its intention to issue BT with a monetary penalty.

“This relates to emails concerning charitable fundraising that were sent to some of our customers in 2015/16. There was no financial benefit to BT, and minimal impact on customers – in fact almost five million emails elicited just one complaint.

“We are pleased the ICO has acknowledged this was not a deliberate contravention of regulations. In turn, we have accepted the facts set out by the ICO, and have apologised. We immediately tightened our procedures when the complaint was originally raised in February 2017 – as part of our robust and ongoing commitment to the highest standards of data management.”

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