Black Lion Marketing Ltd fined GBP 171k

On 27/Mar/2020, Black Lion Marketing Ltd received a privacy fine of GBP 171,000. The enforcement authority (Information Commissioner's Office) has cited these legal provisions in imposing the fine on Black Lion Marketing Ltd: Local law provisions/

Essentials

Date of enforcement action:
27/Mar/2020
Jurisdiction: Fine imposed:
United Kingdom Flag for United Kingdom, which is the jurisdiction taking enforcement action GBP 171,000 (US$212,600)
Defendant company or entity: Industry segment:
Black Lion Marketing Ltd Marketing /

Case summary

Black Lion Marketing Ltd has been fined £171,000 by the UK’s ICO for making unsolicited direct marketing calls. The case relates to a series of unsolicited calls that Black Lion Marketing Ltd made to consumers in the UK, some of which were on the relevant “do not call” register.

Facts as reported by the ICO’s office: On 12 March 2019, having received a number of complaints relating to unsolicited direct marketing calls made by BLM Ltd, the Commissioner sought and executed a search warrant at the company’s premises. The documents secured in the course of executing that warrant helped to corroborate the Commissioner’s suspicions that BLM Ltd was indeed carrying out direct marketing in contravention of Regulation 21 PECR, and that such direct marketing was being carried out with various trading names being used. The Commissioner subsequently issued BLM Ltd with an Enforcement Notice (dated 18 April 2019) which instructed BLM Ltd to cease its unlawful direct marketing. It is noted that BLM Ltd made an application to be struck off the Companies House register on 3 April 2019.

A Third Party Information Notice (“3PIN”) was sent to the archive supplier on 29 April 2019. In its response to the Commissioner it provided a spreadsheet which confirmed that there were 7,234,131 connected outbound calls between 13 July 2018 to 02 April 2019 from ‘Calling Line Identifiers (“CLIs”) attributed to BLM Ltd. 19.Of those, it was possible to establish via a method of filtration that 240,576 calls were made to subscribers who had been registered with the TPS for not less than 28 days at the time they received the call.

The Commissioner notes that between 13 July 2018 to 02 April 2019 there were a total of 233 complaints made regarding unsolicited direct marketing calls made by BLM Ltd.

The Commissioner has not been provided with any evidence of consent from BLM Ltd for those subscribers who were registered with the TPS for not less than 28 days at the time they received the call.

It is further the view of the Commissioner, in light of the material seized in the course of her warrant, that BLM Ltd would use fictious trading names in the course of its direct marketing; an action which would be likely to contravene the requirements of Regulation 24 PECR.

On 20 May 2019 BLM Ltd was placed into creditors voluntary liquidation.

ICO’s findings as to applicable law and violations: The Commissioner finds that BLM Ltd has contravened regulations 21 and 24 of PECR. The Commissioner finds that the contravention was as follows:

Between 13 July 2018 to 02 April 2019, BLM Ltd used a public telecommunications service for the purposes of making 240,576 unsolicited calls to subscribers for direct marketing purposes to subscribers where the number allocated to the subscriber in respect of the called line was a number listed on the register of numbers kept by the Commissioner in accordance with regulation 26, contrary to regulation 21(1)(b) of PECR.

The Commissioner is also satisfied for the purposes of regulation 21 that these 240,576 unsolicited direct marketing calls were made to subscribers who had registered with the TPS at least 28 days prior to receiving the calls, and they had not given their prior consent to BLM Ltd to receive calls.

The Commissioner considered, in her reasons, that the contraventions were both serious and deliberate.

(UK ICO)

Commentary

The Commissioner explicitly identified the following features of the case as being aggravating:

  • BLM Ltd, in breach of Regulation 24 PECR, used multiple fictitious company names during the course of its unsolicited direct marketing campaigns with the apparent intention to conceal its true identity;
  • Evidence obtained during the execution of the Commissioner’s warrant indicated that the leads generated by the direct marketing calls being made were subsequently being referred on to law firms for remuneration
  • Following the execution of the warrant, BLM Ltd took steps to enter voluntary liquidation, a common tactic used by organisations seeking to avoid regulatory action;
  • The Commissioner has reason to suspect that the director of BLM Ltd has “phoenixed” the business, i.e. opened a separate company to continue its unlawful direct marketing, albeit under a separate company name.

Applicable legal provisions

Enforcement information

Enforcement authority: Type of enforcement action:
Information Commissioner's Office Flag for United Kingdom, which is the jurisdiction taking enforcement action Penalty notice
Subject to appeal?
Yes

Cite this fine in your work

Data Privacy Fines Index. (2020-03-27 01:17) Black Lion Marketing Ltd fined GBP 171k. dataprivacyfines.com. Retrieved from https://privacyfines.com/fine/black-lion-marketing-ltd-fined-gbp-171k/

Entry last updated: 2020-04-27 03:54 GMT.