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ICO figures highlight ongoing misuse of personal data

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24th Nov 2015
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The Information Commissioners’ Office (ICO) is set to write to around 1,000 companies about their use of personal data in the UK, amid hundreds of thousands of complaints from consumers receiving unsolicited communications through 2015.  

In response, the undisclosed companies will be expected to set out exactly how they comply with the law, including “what data they share, how they get people’s consent to share their data, as well as a list of all the companies they’ve worked with in the last six months”.

The announcement comes as the UK government continues to grapple with what it calls “nuisance calls and texts”, and the boundaries of what companies can be fined for unsolicited data use shifts.

The ICO states it will be announcing several high-profile fines this week, with one penalty set for a company that had sent “more than one million text messages about PPI claims”.

Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham said the sector had prompted 180,000 complaints a year from consumers:

"That information has helped us to make some big breakthroughs in the nuisance calls business, alongside the intelligence we build up from elsewhere, from whistleblowers for instance, or from the network providers," he said.

"We see clear patterns building up and can identify who would benefit from guidance, and who the truly bad actors are. This enables us to execute search warrants, to drag people before the courts, and to issue fines.”

Martin Moran, SVP for EMEA at InsideSales welcomed the news, stating that it was unsurprising that more fines were set to be handed out.

“Most telemarketers are stuck with outdated call centre software and old school predictive diallers that burn through huge lists calling multiple lines in hopes of making a live connection, but this technique stopped being effective years ago. The day of the nuisance call is long gone, buyers want a more personalised experience.”

It’s almost a year since the government outlined its recommendations for clamping down on nuisance calls and texts, while in the process, revealing there were more than one billion unsolicited made in the UK in 2014. Despite their best efforts, 2015’s figure looks set to rise, based on the huge number of consumer complaints in response.  

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