Mobile network EE has been slapped with a £100,000 fine by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for sending text messages to customers without their consent.
More than 2.5m direct marketing messages were sent in early 2018, encouraging people to use the ‘My EE’ app to manage their account and also to upgrade their phone. Customers who didn’t engage with first message were sent a follow-up.
EE told the ICO that it viewed the texts as service messages and not direct marketing messages, meaning they would not be in breach of electronic marketing laws. The ICO disagreed but has acknowledged that EE did not set out to deliberately breach the laws.
“These were marketing messages which promoted the company’s products and services. The direct marketing guidance is clear: if a message that contains customer service information also includes promotional material to buy extra products for services, it is no longer a service message and electronic marketing rules apply,” said Andy White, director of investigations at the ICO.
“EE Limited were aware of the law and should have known that they needed customers’ consent to send them in line with the direct marketing rules.”
Under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), marketing messages can only be sent to existing customers if they have provided consent and if they are given a simple way of opting out of future marketing. The maximum fine for a breach is £500,000.