The mobile network EE has been fined £100,000 by the Information Commissioner (ICO) after it broke rules about spam texts.
The company was wrapped on the knuckles by the regulator for breaching rules which stop organisations bombarding customers with emails and texts.
EE was fined after texts, sent in early 2018, encouraged customers to use its ‘My EE’ app to help manage their account and upgrade their phone.
Why was EE fined?
EE claimed the texts were sent as ‘service messages’, the type customers receive about tariff changes and service outages, rather than electronic marketing.
However, the ICO judged that the texts contained direct marketing and that the company sent them deliberately, making them electronic marketing.
While accepting the fact that EE did not set out to breach electronic marketing laws, the ICO Director of Investigations, Andy White, said the rules were clear.
He said: “If a message that contains customer service information also includes promotional material to buy extra products for services, it is no longer a service message and electronic marketing rules apply.
“EE Limited were aware of the law and should have known that they needed customers’ consent to send them in line with the direct marketing rules.”
What are the rules?
Companies are not allowed to send marketing messages to customers unless explicit consent has been given and a simple opt-out system is in place.
This opt-out should be available when data is first collected and every message sent afterwards.
The ICO state: “People have a right to opt out of receiving marketing at any time, at which point it’s the organisation’s responsibility to stop sending them.”
This rule applies to emails, texts, picture messages, video messages, direct messages via social media or any other similar message which is stored electronically.
Companies can be fined up to £500,000 for breaking these rules.
This story originally appeared on our sister site, the Edinburgh Evening News.