Royal Mail Group Ltd has been fined £12,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) after sending more than 300,000 nuisance emails.

On two dates in July 2017, the company sent emails to 327,014 people who had already opted out of receiving direct marketing.

The emails outlined a price drop for parcels, but the company did not have the recipients’ consent to send them, and so broke the law.

The ICO launched an investigation after receiving a complaint from a member of the public, who had received a marketing email from Royal Mail despite having opted out.

ICO Head of Enforcement, Steve Eckersley, said:

“Royal Mail did not follow the law on direct marketing when it sent such a huge volume of emails, because the recipients had already clearly expressed they did not want to receive them.

“These rules are there for a reason – to protect people from the irritation and, on occasions, distress nuisance emails cause. I hope this sends the message that we will take action against companies who flout them.”

During the investigation, Royal Mail claimed the emails were a service rather than marketing; informing customers of a price drop.

The Commissioner found that the emails sent constituted marketing and not simply a service message, therefore breaching regulation 22 of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).

Nuisance calls and spam texts and emails can be reported via the ICO’s website or by calling 0303 123 1113 with as much detail as possible. Mobile phone users can also report spam texts by forwarding the message to 7726.

The ICO has published detailed guidance for companies carrying out marketing – explaining their legal requirements under data protection law and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. The guidance covers the circumstances in which organisations are able to carry out marketing over the phone, by text, by email, by post or by fax.

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