ICO to crack down on personal data usage in online gambling

11 November 2016

The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is to target more than 400 companies believed to be using people’s personal information to promote online gambling websites.

In a statement, the regulatory body said it will write to companies demanding to know how they use such details and send marketing texts, including how they obtained the information and how many texts they send.

Companies that fail to comply with the law could face a fine of up to £500,000 (€576,200/$628,500).

The campaign forms part of a wider investigation into large numbers of spam texts linked to gambling, with the ICO focusing on companies identified as being involved in affiliate marketing, where firms offer to pay organisations that bring new customers, which can lead to a situation where neither party is taking any responsibility for complying with the rules.

Failure to comply with the law can result in enforcement action from the ICO, including a fine of up to £500,000.

David Clancy, anti-spam investigations manager for the ICO, said: “Companies must comply with the law when using people’s personal information; not knowing the law or trying to pass the buck to another company in the chain is no excuse.

“The public expect firms to be accountable for how they obtain and use personal data when marketing by phone, email or text; fail to be accountable and you could be breaking the law, risking ICO enforcement action and the future of your business.”

Audrey Ferrie, legal director at Pinsent Masons, spoke positively about the move, telling iGaming Business that the campaign will highlight those companies that are not complying with UK licence regulations.

Ferrie said: “The Gambling Commission Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice impose conditions on licence holders to take responsibility for the behaviour/actions of affiliates.

“The above highlights the Commission’s focus on a licence-holder’s responsibility for the actions of affiliates and the importance of data security.

“The Commission made it very clear as recently as Tuesday that the consumer is at the heart of their strategy so any suggestion that personal details are being used possibly in breach of data protection regulations could have consequences for the operators and not just the affiliates.”

Related article: UKGC urges operators to focus on customers