Digital marketing firm hit with £50k nuisance calls fine from ICO


The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has meted out its second sizeable fine this week to a digital marketing company for bombarding people with nuisance marketing calls.

Reactiv Media Limited has been hit with a 50,000 fine for making unsolicited marketing calls to people who had opted out of receiving them by registering their details with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).

This is a direct breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), which the ICO is responsible for enforcing.

The TPS said it received 481 complaints from people about calls they received from the company, while a further 120 grievances were lodged with the ICO.

In a statement, Reactiv Media blamed the fact the calls were made on an "error" in its TPS screening procedures that was later rectified.

"Whilst Reactiv Media is disappointed to receive a fine from the ICO, [it] relates almost in its entirety to events that happened 18 months ago in October and November 2012," the statement reads.

"At that point in time there was an error in our TPS screening process, which meant we did call some numbers that we weren't meant to call, for this we apologise.

"Some of these callers did, however, take a product or service as a result of the call. When we became aware of the error it was immediately rectified," it added.

To reinforce this, the company said its representatives regularly speak to around 125,000 people each week, and received no complaints from the TPS register over the past seven days.

"Reactiv Media Limited takes privacy seriously and stands by a firm commitment to investigate and resolve any enquiry about the use of personal data within the timeline established via the Data Protection Act," it added.

Simon Entwisle, director of operations at the ICO, said the case emphasises the fact that people who have taken the time to register their details with the TPS shouldn't receive nuisance calls.

"Reactiv Media Limited ignored this rule and they must now pay a 50,000 penalty," he said.

"Nuisance calls and texts are a scourge for thousands of individuals and households across the UK. We will continue to target the companies responsible."

The effectiveness of the TPS register has recently been called into question, following a poll by Ofcom and the ICO about the number of nuisance calls people receive.

Its findings revealed that those who sign up to TPS receive just a third fewer calls than those who don't.

Last Thursday, the ICO announced enforcement action against an online travel services firm after its insecure website allowed hackers to steal 1.5 million customers' credit card details. This resulted in a 150,000 fine.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.