If you've got a cell phone, chances are, you've been hit with a spam message or two over the years. The UK's Information Commission is determined to crack down on illegal texts and phones, and latest efforts have seen two men fined nearly half a million pounds sterling for sending hundreds of thousands of text messages to mobile phone users.
The ICO reports that Christopher Niebel and Gary McNeish ran a marketing company called Tetrus Telecoms. The company was in the business of sending out thousands of unsolicited SMS messages for its clients. The ICO says they did this without the consent of the recipient and without identifying the sender, both of which are legal requirements under the PECR (the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations). Messages sent to consumers includes accident claims ads and texts stating the recipient was entitled to compensation for past loans.
The ICO's investigation found evidence that showed Tetrus was using unregistered pay as you go SIM cards to send up to 840,000 text messages per day with an income of £7,000 - £8,000 a day. Niebel was ordered to pay a penalty of £300,000, while his partner McNeish was been fined £140,000.
The Information Commissioner's office said that it received 400 complaints relating to Tetrus and reminded people that the best course of action for unsolicited text messages is to ignore them.
"Our message to the public is that if you don't know who sent you a text message then do not respond, otherwise your details may be used to generate profits for these unscrupulous individuals. Together we can put an end to this unlawful industry that continues to plague our daily lives," The Information Commissioner said.
In addition to the fines, McNeish and Niebel will face prosecution for failing to notify the ICO that their company, Tetrus Telecoms, was processing personal information (a legal requirement under the information act).