Published on Monday, March 27, 2017
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The emails, sent in August 2016 with the title 'Are your details correct?', advised recipients to amend any out-of-date information and update any marketing preferences.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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