EE, the widely used mobile network has been fined around £100,000 by the ICO for transmitting messages to their customers. These messages had been sent without obtaining the prior approval and consent of these affected customers. As per the ICO, over 2.5 million text messages had been sent to customers without their approval during 2018. These texts were sent with the express purpose of encouraging EE customers towards making use of EE mobile application. It was also sent to convince them to upgrade existing handsets. EE defended its actions, stating that it had believed back then that these messages were not only service messages and not meant to be direct marketing.
ICO declared that if any messages of any form contain promotional material as part of the text content, then the rules and regulations established for electronic marketing will apply automatically. Actions that do not comply with these rules and regulations may cause the company to be fined as much as £500,000. Andy White, who serves as investigations director at ICO stated that these messages were meant as marketing messages that were promoting the company’s services and products.
He stated that ICO’s direct marketing regulations were clear about what is qualified as under its ambit. If any message is sent, containing customer information along with promotional material that is meant to encourage customers towards purchasing additional services or products, then it no longer qualifies as a mere service message. Electronic marketing regulations automatically apply to these messages.
EE released a statement in which it humbly accepted the findings by the ICO. It said that it would continue to improve all its processes. The company stated that they were absolutely steadfast about ensuring that all customers had knowledge of all their options during their contract term. It also apologized to all the customers in receipt of these messages.