£60,000 fine for local business is dropped and apology issued
A BRIDGEND tech company fined £60,000 over spam texts has had their fine overturned and has received an official apology.
Software developer, STS Commercial Ltd, was accused of allowing its lines to be used to send texts promoting payday loans to more than 270,000 people in a three-month period between November 2016 and January 2017.
In July, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) hit the company with a £60,000 financial penalty. The Monetary Penalty Notice (MPN) was issued on the basis of evidence received by the ICO.
But STS Commercial appealed the notice to the First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights) – and the fine has been dropped.
A statement on the ICO website said: “After considering the grounds of appeal, the ICO carried out a further review with the tel- ecoms provider responsible for the lines. Further information was uncovered through the appeal process which showed there were significantly fewer complaints than previously evidenced. As a result of this revised information, the ICO has withdrawn the fine.”
In a statement that will be published on the ICO website for at least a month, the body accepted that the company’s appeal should be allowed.
The ICO also conceded that “no monetary penalty should be imposed” and publicly apologised to STS Commercial.
An ICO spokesperson said: “On 6 July, 2018, the ICO announced it had imposed a fine of £60,000 on STS Commercial Ltd for allowing its lines to be used to send spam texts.
“STS Commercial Ltd appealed that penalty and upon considering the grounds of appeal, the ICO accepts that the appeal should be allowed and no monetary penalty should be imposed. The ICO apologises to STS Commercial Ltd.”
William Sinclair, director STS Commercial Ltd, said: “On the 30th of July STS Commercial submitted an appeal to the First Tier Tribnunal, asking for the Information Commissioner’s (IC) decision to impose a Monetary Penalty on our Company of £60,000 be overturned.
“We are pleased to announce that at the appeal, when presented with our grounds, the IC has agreed to dispose of the Monetary Penalty, and to apologise to us officially on their website for their conduct in the investigation.
“We’ve always maintained that we did not do anything wrong. The conduct of the IC’s dealings fell short of what would be expected from an ICO investigation. The decision by the IC to impose the Monetary Penalty was unreasonable in the circumstances and the conduct of her inquiries and the cavalier approach caused damage to our reputation, and could have resulted in the loss of up to 20 jobs to the Welsh economy.
“It’s a crazy world we live in, where the regulator can issue fines without evidence, instead of first having a simple conversation to resolve any issues.
“Spending money on legal costs defending yourself against an unjust action makes for a hollow victory, but in principle we have stood up for all businesses regarding their information rights.”
The firm was accused of sending thousands of text messages about pay day loans