I confess I’ve not been doing a lot on the spam wars front. There are far more interesting things to be doing in life than fighting spam, like earning a living (plug!). However, there are two companies that have been REALLY annoying me lately, so much so I had to do something about it.
I complained about one of them to the Information Commissioners Office. They are responsible for ensuring people and companies comply with the telecommunications regulations. In my view, they are an INTELLIGENT government department, they don’t wade in taking everyone through the courts for the genuine oversight or misunderstanding of the regulations, they first ensure the company/people are educated to know the law. Only then, if the company persists in breaking the law will they take action. So I understand they haven’t taken action in court against anyone for sending spam. I’d like to think this is because the companies they have ‘educated’ have stopped sending spam.
Anyway, I filed a complaint about kt8.com and their various trading names. I’ve just received the following response from the ICO:
10th April 2007
Case Reference Number ELE0154373
Dear Mr Root
Unsolicited marketing email complaint
Thank you for your correspondence regarding unsolicited direct marketing emails from ‘Intelligent Mailer’.
The Information Commissioner advises on and enforces the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR). These regulations cover the way organisations market subscribers by electronic means (for example using telephone, fax, text and email). Marketing can include the promotion of goods, services, aims or ideals.
Regulation 22 of the PECR requires that companies and organisations do not send unsolicited direct marketing by electronic mail (including email) to individual subscribers (which would include non- limited liability partnerships in England) without their prior consent.
There is an exemption this rule which can apply in the case of a clearly defined customer relationship. However an organisation must satisfy all of the following criteria for this exemption to apply. They are:
1. Your contact details are collected “in the course of a sale or negotiations for a sale”.
2. Your details are only used to send marketing messages about similar products and services.
3. You are given the opportunity to opt-out when your details are initially collected and you are given the opportunity to opt-out in every subsequent marketing communication.
The prior consent requirement of this legislation does not apply to corporate subscribers (including limited companies and non limited liability partnerships). However in this case it appears from the information provided that although the email addresses you are receiving these communications on are business addresses, Roots Kitchens and Bedrooms are a non-limited liability partnership, so would come under the definition of ‘Individual subscriber’ and should not be receiving unsolicited direct marketing emails without having given prior consent.
Under the PECR the Commissioner has no powers to punish an organisation for a breach of the Regulations. His aim is rather to achieve compliance with them. In light of this we have written to Intelligent Mailer reminding them of their obligations under the PECR and explaining the action they must take to comply in future. We have also asked them to suppress all the email addresses at your domain from their marketing list. This should take no longer than 28 days. After this time you should not receive further emails from them.
We will, however, keep this case on file. In the event that you receive further emails from Intelligent Mailer (or their associated sites such as KT8.com) to your email addresses please let us know in writing, quoting the reference number above. Where appropriate we will pass your complaint to our Regulatory Action Division for them to consider formal action.
Where an organisation seems to be persistently breaching the PECR we can take further action to compel them to comply. More information about the factors we take into account when deciding if further action is appropriate can be found in our ‘Strategy for Regulatory Action’ which is available from our website www.ico.gov.uk (follow the links for ‘Tools and resources’, ‘Document library’, Data protection’ then scroll down to ‘Detailed specialist guides’) or from our helpline on 01625 545745. Details of the formal action we take or are considering can be found on our website at: http://www.ico.gov.uk/what_we_cover/privacy_and_electronic_communications.aspx
Thank you for bringing this to our attention.
So there we have it. I am right to say that I should not be sent spam by these companies. What do you think the chances are they will stop now? I’ve asked the ICO by email what the response of kt8.com was when they were contacted. Particularly why kt8.com ignored my requests they stop sending me email yet will apparently stop now the ICO has asked (I’m not sure if this is a standard response letter and kt8.com haven’t actually responded).
So, if you have received spam from any of the following domains and they have ignored your unsubscribe request (not that you subscribed in the first place, they took my email addresses from a number of places) complain to the ICO as well and lets see what happens.
You may also like to know these domains are registered both as companies and as individuals.
The company mentioned on one is: “Domain Host Ltd”, who are the same address on the domain registration as “Domainhost Ltd”, companies house have them as company number 05632256 so (giving the benefit of the doubt) they made a typo on the domain registration. Perhaps it was “Paul O’Brien” who made the typo, he appears as the private individual that owns several of the domains as well as being the admin contact for kt8.com. KT8.com happens to haves the same PO Box address in Whitstable as Domainhost Ltd. As I said, benefit of the doubt, it could be a whole collection of typing errors when registering the domain names.
Oh, I almost forgot to tell you all what product they were trying to sell in their spam….. Server based software to send large amounts of marketing emails. As they say on their site:
“With Intelligent Mailer your mailings are faster and more likely to get through spam filters”
I couldn’t make it any more ironic if I tried.