Halfords fined for sending almost 500,000 undesirable advertising emails

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The Info Commissioner’s Workplace (ICO) has fined Halfords Restricted £30,000 for sending 498,179 unsolicited advertising emails to individuals with out their consent.

Halfords got here to the eye of the ICO following complaints in relation to a direct advertising electronic mail a few “Repair Your Bike” authorities voucher scheme, which was despatched on 28 July 2020.

The federal government scheme allowed individuals to make use of a voucher value as much as £50 in the direction of the price of repairing a bicycle in any accepted retailers or mechanics in England. Nonetheless, Halfords’ advertising electronic mail inspired individuals to guide a free bike evaluation and to redeem the voucher at their chosen Halfords retailer. This quantities to advertising its providers which might generate revenue for the corporate.

The ICO investigation discovered that Halfords’ electronic mail message clearly marketed a service offered by the corporate, and that Halfords couldn’t depend on reputable curiosity to ship the advertising electronic mail, as claimed by the corporate.

In keeping with digital advertising guidelines, reputable curiosity can’t be used as an alternative choice to consent when sending digital advertising messages. The delicate opt-in exemption nonetheless, permits organisations to ship digital advertising messages to prospects whose particulars have been obtained in the course of the course of a sale or negotiations for comparable providers, but it surely should provide a easy manner for individuals to decide out.

The ICO dominated that Halfords couldn’t depend on the delicate opt-in exemption for patrons that acquired the e-mail, as that they had already not opted in to obtain emails from the corporate.

Head of Investigations, Andy Curry stated:

“It’s towards the regulation to ship advertising emails or texts to individuals with out their permission. Not solely this, it’s a violation of their privateness rights in addition to being irritating and downright annoying.

“Halfords are a family identify and we count on firms like them to know and act higher. This incident doesn’t replicate nicely on the inner recommendation or processes and due to this fact a high quality was warranted on this case. This additionally sends a message to comparable organisations to assessment their digital advertising operations, and that we’ll take vital motion in the event that they break the regulation.”

Organisations can entry ICO steerage and sources on the Privateness and Digital Communications Rules (PECR), which provides individuals particular privateness rights in relation to digital advertising communications.

Members of the general public who imagine they’ve been the sufferer of nuisance texts, calls or emails, ought to report them to the ICO, get in contact through dwell chat or name our helpline on 0303 123 1113.

Notes to Editors

  1. The Info Commissioner’s Workplace (ICO) upholds info rights within the public curiosity, selling openness by public our bodies and information privateness for people.
  2. The ICO has particular obligations set out within the Knowledge Safety Act 2018, the UK Basic Knowledge Safety Regulation (GDPR), the Freedom of Info Act 2000, Environmental Info Rules 2004 and Privateness and Digital Communications Rules 2003.
  3. The Privateness and Digital Communications Rules (PECR) give individuals particular privateness rights in relation to digital communications. There are particular guidelines on:
    • advertising calls, emails, texts and faxes;
    • cookies (and comparable applied sciences);
    • maintaining communications providers safe; and
    • buyer privateness as regards site visitors and placement information, itemised billing, line identification, and listing listings.
  4. The ICO’s powers beneath the Privateness and Digital Communications Rules (PECR) which cowl nuisance advertising embody issuing fines of as much as £500,000. It could possibly additionally apply for court docket orders for winding-up firms and, by working intently with companions, get director’s disqualified. Extra particulars of this work can be found right here.
  5. To report a priority to the ICO phone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/considerations.
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