British Telecommunications plc (BT) has been fined £77,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office after it sent nearly five million nuisance emails to customers.

The investigation found that the company did not have customers’ consent to send direct marketing emails. This is against the law.

ICO Head of Enforcement, Steve Eckersley, said:

“Organisations have a responsibility to ensure they are acting within the law. Where they do not, the ICO can and will take action. This particular investigation was prompted by a concerned member of the public.  We investigated the matter and uncovered the full extent of this activity which shows how important it is for people to report nuisance emails.”

The 4.9 million emails were sent between December 2015 and November 2016 promoting three charity initiatives: the BT ‘My Donate’ platform, Giving Tuesday and Stand up to Cancer.

During the investigation, BT accepted that emails for Giving Tuesday and Stand up to Cancer were unlawful but disputed the assessment that My Donate emails were direct marketing.

The Commissioner found that all of the emails sent constituted marketing and were not simply service messages. These messages were found to have been delivered to recipients who had not given the necessary consent and were therefore sent in breach of regulation 22 of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (2003).

The Information Commissioner found that although BT did not deliberately break the rules, it should have known the risks and it failed to take reasonable steps to prevent them.

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