Direct marketing messages that appear uninvited on mobile phones are viewed as a plague by many and those responsible for sending them can expect to be hit hard in the pocket. In one case, a digital communications company received a six-figure fine after sending almost 2.6 million unsolicited texts in little more than a month.
An investigation by the Information Commissioner (IC) revealed that the messages were received by about 14.5 million mobile phone users, of whom 2,590,456 had previously indicated that they did not consent to receiving direct marketing. Their lack of consent was apparent from the company's own records.
The company argued that the messages were intended to introduce recipients to its online app and provide them with other information about its services. However, the IC found that they contained significant marketing material and that sending them without recipients' consent was therefore a serious and deliberate breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003. In ordering the company to pay a £100,000 financial penalty, the IC noted that her principal objective was to generally encourage compliance with the rules.