Hundreds of online gambling affiliates have been warned by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) regarding the nuisance texts.
ICO has launched an investigation into claims that companies are bombarding millions of people with spam messages. The watchdog agency released a notice expressing the concern that companies may not be using personal data in accordance with the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).
More than 400 letters were sent out by ICO to companies that are believed to be using customers’ personal details to promote gambling services via text messaging services improperly. ICO is demanding details on how firms are targeting people, where they got people’s private information from and how many marketing texts they have sent.
“The ICO is writing to companies identified as being involved in affiliate marketing,” ICO said in a statement. “This is when firms offer to pay organisations that bring them new customers, sometimes leading to a situation where neither party is taking any responsibility for complying with the rules. The gambling sector is an area where the ICO has become aware of particular problems around affiliate marketing.”
David Clancy, the ICO’s anti-spam investigations manager, said the watchdog was able to progress with investigation and act “thanks to consumers who’ve reported spam texts to us, as well as intelligence from other sources”.
“Companies must comply with the law when using people’s personal information. Not knowing the law or trying to pass the buck to another company in the chain is no excuse. The public expect firms to be accountable for how they obtain and use personal data when marketing by phone, email or text. Fail to be accountable and you could be breaking the law, risking ICO enforcement action and the future of your business” commented David Clancy of the ICO.
The agency warned the suspected offenders that fines for serious violations of data laws can be as high as £500,000.