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Nuisance Call Biz Fined £400,000 by ICO

A UK firm has been fined £400,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) after breaching privacy regulations thanks to an 18-month period of making nuisance calls.

The data protection watchdog also enforces the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), which govern marketing communications.

According to the ICO, automated calls of the type made by Keurboom Communications can only be made if the recipient has given their explicit consent.

This wasn’t the case, as victims were inundated with an estimated 99.5 million nuisance calls from the firm, related to PPI compensation, road traffic accident claims and the like.

The firm’s director, Gregory Rudd, was fined and prosecuted after failing to reply to the ICO’s seven notices to the company and frustratingly has now placed Keurboom Communications in voluntary liquidation.

The government is planning a new law allowing it to fine the company directors behind nuisance call firms, which will hopefully put an end to this practice.

“The unprecedented scale of its campaign and Keurboom’s failure to co-operate with our investigation has resulted in the largest fine issued by the Information Commissioner for nuisance calls,” said Steve Eckersley, head of enforcement at the ICO.

“These calls have now stopped – as has Keurboom – but our work has not. We’ll continue to track down companies that blight people’s lives with nuisance calls, texts and emails.”

The ICO claimed to have fined 23 companies £1.9m for nuisance marketing since last year.

Peter Galdies, development director at data governance firm DQM GRC, said the fine could have been even higher had the GDPR been in force.

“Organizations need to get better at gaining consent and driving up their permission to market rates. Cancer Research UK announced last year that the organization is set to abolish its traditional fundraising methods and stop cold-calling for more cash unless previous supporters have explicitly given their permission in advance,” he explained.

“This shift to an ‘opt-in’ model is predicted to cost Cancer Research UK millions of pounds a year, but it is a brave and pragmatic decision. Ultimately, securing trust with supporters is far more important for any brand’s long term reputation and impact – particularly with new regulation coming soon.”

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