Letters have been sent to the two unnamed companies to inform of the ICO’s intention to fine them for the “distribution of millions of spam texts”.
The ICO was handed additional powers to fine offenders up to £500,000 by the Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations directive last year. The regulator has been beefing up the enforcement team setup to enforce the laws.
The watchdog came under fire in a BBC Panorama show earlier this year after it was found to have taken no action against any company.
Simon Entwisle, director of operations at the ICO, says: “The public have told us that they are increasingly concerned about the illegal marketing texts and calls. These are often made by rogue companies claiming to offer pay outs for accidents a person has never had or PPI claims that they are not necessarily entitled to.
“While companies can phone people to sell them the latest product or service, the law states that individuals should not receive unsolicited texts or automated marketing calls unless they have given their permission. We know many companies are failing to do this and two individuals responsible for sending millions of illegal marketing messages are now facing six figure penalties unless they can prove otherwise.
The Direct Marketing Association, which has been calling on the ICO to take tough action, welcomed the move.
“Issuing huge fines sends out a strong message, so we look forward to seeing the ICO take more enforcement action to clamp down on this criminal activity. The ICO must continue to take a firm line to protect consumers and the legitimate mobile marketing industry alike”, says the DMA’s chief of operations Mike Lordan.
The companies accused of spam texting have 28 days to respond and prove that they were complying with the law otherwise final penalty notices will be issued, the ICO says.