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ICO Criticises Telecoms Operator EE UK for Nuisance Calls and Texts

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014 (3:01 pm) - Score 1,472

The Information Commissioner’s Office has warned mobile operator EE that consumers have become tired of their nuisance sales calls and marketing texts, so much so that the regulator has even expressed concern about their “compliance with the law“. But there’s better news for BSkyB, which is now off the ICO’s poop list.

The situation was uncovered as part of the ICO’s latest quarterly enforcement update, which also reveals that BSkyB (Sky Broadband) was identified as prompting a “large number of complaints” before Christmas. But happily the ICO said that they’ve “since worked with them to improve processes and we now feel enforcement action is unlikely to be required“.


But sometimes enforcement action is still needed and the ICO recently fined two companies – a Yorkshire direct marketing firm and a Devon PPI Claims company – a total of £140,000 for breaching the electronic marketing rules. Suffice to say that EE could easily find itself in the same boat unless they change course.

ICO Statement on EE

Perhaps the most eye-catching will be the mobile phone network EE (Everything Everywhere). We have concerns about their compliance with the law around both sales calls and marketing text messages, and we’ve already been in touch with them to be clear that enforcement action is a possibility. Our concerns are prompted by consumer concerns, and as we work with them over the coming months, we’ll be monitoring what consumers are telling us about them.

Being contacted by the ICO is usually enough of a jolt to these businesses to get them to sort out their processes, and the complaints quickly tail off. And where we don’t see the improvements we expect, we have the power to look at enforcement action: we’ve issued three enforcement notices already this year (and one preliminary notice), while the fine we issued in April took our total fines in this area to over a million pounds. We’ve also prosecuted three lead generation and marketing companies for non-notification offences, criminal breaches under the Data Protection Act.”

However the ICO was keen to stress that, in its view, the “majority of organisations do not want to make nuisance calls and texts” (i.e. annoyed consumers don’t tend to sign up). Instead the problems are usually blamed on poor processes (incorrect call lists that result in ex-customers being spammed) or a failure to inform consumers about how their details will be used (e.g. like when you try an ISPs broadband availability checker only to later be spammed with marketing calls from the same provider).

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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