Flybe (£70,000) and Honda (£13,000) received these fines for sending emails to customers who had previously opted out of marketing communications. In both cases the emails were sent with the apparent aim to ensure details were correct and that customer’s preference for marketing was correctly recorded. At first sight these may not appear to be marketing communications. However the ICO took the view that this was indeed marketing and that the sending of the emails was in breach.
The sending of unsolicited email marketing is covered by PECR which require customers either to opt in to marketing or to have previously contacted the sender for similar goods or services. Email marketing communications should always provide customers an unsubscribe options and the sending of marketing emails to customers who have opted out is prohibited. Email marketing activities should therefore be carefully managed to ensure that the regulations are not breached.
These fines were issued with the oncoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in mind with changes due to come in to force in May 2018 around consent and how it can be obtained to ensure compliance. The GDPR is also significantly increasing the potential level at which fines can be levied so ensuring compliance around both data protection and marketing activities should be at the forefront of businesses’ minds.