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Pair face £250k fines for spamming mobes with millions of texts

ICO gives duo a month to come up with a good excuse

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Two unnamed marketers are facing fines well over £250,000 for allegedly texting millions of spam messages.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has written to both individuals to confirm that it intends to extract the cash from the pair, who are accused of breaching the UK's Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. The recipients have 28 days to put forward a defence against the alleged infractions.

Simon Entwisle, the ICO's director of operations, said: "The public have told us that they are increasingly concerned about the illegal marketing texts and calls. These are often made by rogue companies claiming to offer pay outs for accidents a person has never had or Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) claims that they are not necessarily entitled to.

“While companies can phone people to sell them the latest product or service, the law states that individuals should not receive unsolicited texts or automated marketing calls unless they have given their permission. We know many companies are failing to do this, and two individuals responsible for sending millions of illegal marketing messages are now facing six figure penalties unless they can prove otherwise."

The ICO said it will not name the alleged phone spammers until they've had a chance to reply to the accusations. A spokesman explained: "Unfortunately we are unable to name the two individuals until they have been given 28 days to reply. If they fail to prove that they were compliant with the regulations in their response then we will be able to issue a final penalty notice and disclose the full details."

Entwisle suggested further clampdowns on unwanted text messages are likely. "We are already working to identify other individuals and companies involved in these unlawful practices," he said.

Action against text spammers by the ICO is rare but not unprecedented. The watchdog hopes waving the threat of huge fines at two individuals will be enough to discourage other miscreants - as well as placating Brits fed up with being bombarded with useless text messages on behalf of ambulance-chasing lawyers and similar lowlifes.

More on the ICO's text spam campaign can be found in a blog post by Entwisle here. ®

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