Since August 2015, The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)has fined 104 organisations a total of £8.7 million for breaches in data security and anti-spam regulations.
If you didn’t know (why should you), the ICO is the UK authority that oversees how consumer data is handled. They have the power to hand out hefty fines to companies that break the rules.
Companies that use SMS marketing software or an SMS API to bombard people with unwelcome text spam are particularly under the spotlight.
Noose tightens on law breakers
They’re really signalling their zero tolerance approach to spammers and data breachers ahead of the GDPR coming into force on 25th May 2018.
Have a look at our detailed report and inforgraphic that provides plenty of analysis and comment on the rising fines.
Every month the ICO releases detailed information on which companies have been issued with fines for breaking the regulations.
The figures for January reveal that they are ramping up the pressure still further on companies that break the rules by issuing record fines for the month.
9 separate companies were given monetary penalties in January, the highest for any one month. Fines were issued for all the main types of offences that the authority oversees; email spam, SMS spam, nuisance call and data protection breaches.
Mixed messages from the ICO?
The ICO say they won’t hand out huge fines on day one after GDPR kicks in, but January has been a record breaking month for fines.
As well as the highest number of fines given in any month, the total in monetary penalties reached a new high of £1.7 million. For context a total of £4.9 million was raised in the whole of 2017.
This new record represents an increase of 312% above the average monthly figure for 2017.
Nuisance call companies slammed
Companies that persist in blighting people’s lives with automated calls at home will have little room for manoeuvre as the ICO focusses its efforts on irradiating the practice.
Companies responsible for spam phone calls were handed fines totalling £900,000, 54% of all fines for January.
One notable case was Holmes Financial Solutions Ltd who were fined £300,000 after they instigated a ridiculous 8.7 million automated phone calls to individuals without their prior consent.
Commenting on case, ICO Head of Enforcement, Steve Eckersley, said:
The company paid no heed to laws on telephone marketing and showed no concern for the distress they were causing people, by making huge volumes of invasive calls.
The ICO will not tolerate companies who blatantly disregard the law and Holmes Financial Solutions Ltd has paid the price for their negligence.”
Financial services incur largest number of fines
Financial services firms topped the hall of shame with 44% of fines in January being targeted at the sector.
The ICO has the power to fine companies up to £500,000 for breaking the rules. When GDPR comes into effect on May 25th, the ICO’s powers will increase still further, with the maximum possible fine rising to 20 million Euros or 4% of global turnover, whichever is the greater.
The fines data should act as a wake-up call to all companies and organizations that process and handle consumer data.
The clock is ticking and companies that haven’t done so already, need to urgently address data security before the deadline.
Research and analysis conducted by The SMS Works