Nuisance call company receives record fine
The Information Commissioner has issued a record £400,000 monetary penalty to Keurboom Communications Limited for breaches of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. Incredibly, Keurboom had made nearly 100 million automated marketing calls over an 18 month period!
Under the Regulations, organisations making automated calls for direct marketing purposes must have obtained the prior consent of the recipient. Keurboom did not have any consent, the calls did not identify them as being the caller, and some individuals received repeated calls at unsocial hours. The monetary penalty notice shows that Keurboom did not co-operate with the ICO's investigation and failed to comply with formal Information Notices issued by the ICO. All these factors added up to a record fine (the ICO can fine organisations up to £500,000 for significant breaches of the Regulations).
However, this story has a predictable postscript. Following the ICO's investigation, the company was placed into voluntary liquidation, meaning that the ICO will struggle to recover the fine. This has happened on a number of occasions when the ICO has taken action against direct marketing companies for breaches of the Regulations. A proposal by the outgoing UK government to bring in personal liability for individual directors did not make it onto the statute book prior to the election. We will see if this is resurrected by the new Government after the election.
Keurboom's dubious honour of being the recipient of the record fine is unlikely to last long. Under proposals for a new EU-wide ePrivacy Regulation which are due to come into force in May 2018, the maximum fines for breaches of the direct marketing rules are set to be significantly increased. We are likely to see much higher penalties in the future for companies that deliberately break the rules.