THE INFORMATION COMMISSIONER'S OFFICE (ICO) has slapped BT with a £77,000 for spamming customers with nuisance emails.
An investigation by the UK data watchdog found that BT broke the law by failing to get customers' consent to send them direct marketing emails - of which it sent 4.9 million between December 2015 and November 2016.
These emails related to BT's 'My Donate' platform, Giving Tuesday and Stand Up To Cancer, the ICO said.
During the investigation, BT accepted that emails for Giving Tuesday and Stand up to Cancer were unlawful, but disputed the fact that the My Donate emails could be classed as direct marketing.
The ICO, on the other hand, found that "all of the emails sent consititued marketing and were not simply service messages."
And, because these emails were delivered to recipients that had not given the necessary consent, the ICO's probe found BT in breach of regulation 22 of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (2003).
The watchdog added that although BT did not deliberately break the rules, it should have known the risks and it failed to take reasonable steps to prevent them.
ICO head of enforcement, Steve Eckersley, 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."
BT said it is "dissapointed" with the ICO's decision to fine it, and says it has tightened its procedures since the complaint was first raised in February 2017.
"We are disappointed that the Information Commissioner's Office has confirmed its intention to issue BT with a monetary penalty," a BT spokesperson 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
five 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." µ
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