Published on Monday, March 27, 2017

Flybe fined for breaking data rules

Flybe has been fined £70,000 for deliberately sending emails to millions of people who had opted out of receiving them.

An investigation by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) found Flybe deliberately sent more than 3.3 million emails to people who had already said they didn't want to receive marketing emails from the airline.

The emails, sent in August 2016 with the title 'Are your details correct?', advised recipients to amend any out-of-date information and update any marketing preferences.

The emails also said that by updating their preferences, people may be entered into a prize draw.

The airline was fined for breaking the Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations (PECR), which sit alongside the Data Protection Act. They give people specific privacy rights in relation to electronic communications.

ICO head of enforcement Steve Eckersley said Flybe broke the law by sending an email to customers asking for consent to receive future marketing communications.

He said: "Sending emails to determine whether people want to receive marketing without the right consent, is still marketing and it is against the law.

"In Flybe's case, the company deliberately contacted people who had already opted out of emails from them."

The Data Protection Act 1998 will be replaced in May 2018 by General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The ICO said companies will be reviewing how they obtain customer consent for marketing to comply with the stronger data protection legislation coming into force and any company unsure of the best way to prepare for the change in consent under should contact the ICO for advice.

Eckersley warned: "Businesses must understand they can't break one law to get ready for another."

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  • But don't forget Michael...

    ...although it isn't against the law to send unsolicited snailmail, there are two significant differences between snailmail and email. Firstly the sender has to pay (quite a lot) to send a letter whereas an email is free. Had Flybe's letter been sent by snailmail the postage on its own would have cost around £2 million and the letters and envelopes would have added maybe another half a million to that. So letters will inevitably be less common. And secondly, it is possible to mark a letter "Refused - RTS" and it will go back to the originator without any charge to the recipient.It is not usually possible to send back an unwanted email. Two very good deterrents against unsolicited snailmail that probably mean that there is no need for a law against it.

    By Richard English, Monday, March 27, 2017

  • Email permissions

    Abuse of email is one of many ways in which marketers risk a race to the bottom in which we all lose.

    By Joel Brandon-Bravo, Monday, March 27, 2017

  • but if they used the mail

    that's ok ? English law is one huge joke.

    By Michael Anderson, Monday, March 27, 2017

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