The Information Commissioner’s Office has fined BT £77,000 for sending its customers nearly five million emails promoting charity initiatives.
Between December 2015 and November 2016 BT sent 4.9 million emails about its fundraising platform My Donate, Giving Tuesday and Stand up to Cancer.
The ICO said that these were marketing, rather than messaging, and that BT did not have consent to send them, meaning that it had breached regulation 22 of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (2003).
It said that BT had not deliberately breached the rules but it “failed to take reasonable steps” to ensure it complied with the law.
Steve Eckersley, head of enforcement at the ICO, said: “Organisations have a responsibility to ensure they are acting within the law. Where they do not, the ICO can and will take action. This particular investigation was prompted by a concerned member of the public. We investigated the matter and uncovered the full extent of this activity which shows how important it is for people to report nuisance emails.”
In a statement BT said it was “disappointed” as there was “just one complaint” but that it has “tightened” its procedures.
“We are disappointed that the Information Commissioner’s Office has confirmed its intention to issue BT with a monetary penalty.
A spokesman said: “This relates to emails concerning charitable fundraising that were sent to some of our customers in 2015/16. There was no financial benefit to BT, and minimal impact on customers – in fact almost 5 million emails elicited just one complaint.
“We are pleased that the ICO has acknowledged that this was not a deliberate contravention of regulations. In turn, we have accepted the facts set out by the ICO, and have apologised. We immediately tightened our procedures when the complaint was originally raised in February 2017 – as part of our robust and ongoing commitment to the highest standards of data management.”