BT hit with fine following millions of nuisance emails

BT has been fined £77,000 for sending 4.9 million nuisance emails to customers without their permission.

An investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) found that emails promoting three charity initiatives – Giving Tuesday, Stand Up to Cancer, and the BT My Donate platform – were sent without consent and were therefore against the law.

BT accepted that emails relating to two of the initiatives were unlawful but disputed that the My Donate emails constituted ‘direct marketing’. The ICO disagreed, ruling that emails relating to all three constituted marketing.

BT spam fine

“Organisations have a responsibility to ensure they are acting within the law,” said Steve Eckersley, head of enforcement at the ICO. “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.”

The ICO did accept however that BT had not broken the law deliberately, but did state that it should have taken reasonable steps to prevent the infraction from taking place.

The infringement took place before the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force last month and was therefore not subject to the stiffer penalties that legislation affords regulators.

Any breach could result in a maximum fine of €20 million or up to four per cent of global turnover.

BT has been contacted for comment.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.