The Information Commissioner’s Officer has reported details of a fine to Digital Growth Experts Limited (DGEL).  The company received a fine of £60,000 as a consequence of sending nuisance communications during the outbreak of the pandemic.

During the period 29 February 2020  – 30 April 2020, a total of 17,241 text messages were sent out, 16,910 received.  The messages were promoting a hand sanitiser which claimed to be “effective against COVID-19”.

The texts were sent out to people who had not given their consent.

The ICO became aware of DGEL’s conduct when complaints were made using a spam reporting service.  GDEL was then flagged up as an organisation in breach of the Privacy and Electronics Communications Regulations (PECR 2003).

An investigation was immediately carried out and the ICO found that DGEL were unable to provide sufficient evidence regarding the consent given from the phone owners.

Andy Curry, head of investigations at the ICO, said:

“DGEL played upon people’s concerns at a time of great public uncertainty, acting with a blatant disregard for the law, and all in order to feather its own pockets.

We will prioritise action on organisations carrying out similar activity.

Direct marketing laws are clear and it is the responsibility of businesses to ensure they comply.

Ignorance of it or attempting to rely on vague and misleading evidence in support of a marketing campaign simply does not wash.

The sending of nuisance marketing texts are a significant concern to the public, and the ICO will continue to take action where our advice is not followed and where we find serious, systemic or negligent behaviour that puts people’s information rights at risk.”

The ICO’s report and penalty notice can be found here.

If you have been contacted by DGEL, get in touch with our team to see if you have a claim.