What does this cover?

On 2 November 2015, the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (the DPC) welcomed the outcome of prosecution proceedings which concluded at Dublin District Court. Telecommunications companies, Eircom (now trading as Eir) and Imagine Telecommunications Business Ltd (Imagine) were both successfully prosecuted and ordered to make a significant contribution to various charities by 16 December 2015 following which the Probation of Offenders Act will be applied.

Imagine pleaded guilty to one charge of making an unsolicited marketing phone calls without consent and was ordered to donate EUR 2,500 to charity by 16 December 2015. Eir pleaded guilty to six charges of making unsolicited marketing phone calls without consent and one charge of sending a marketing SMS to over 11,000 customers without the necessary "opt out" feature.  Eir was ordered to make a donation, split between three charities, totalling EUR 35,000 by 16 December 2015. Additionally, Eir and Imagine have agreed to cover all costs incurred by the DPC in bringing the prosecutions.

These fines are the highest financial sanction enforced on any company in relation to marketing offences under Regulation 13 of the European Communities (Electronic Communications Networks And Services) (Privacy And Electronic Communications) Regulations 2011.

Commenting on the prosecution, Data Protection Commissioner, Helen Dixon emphasised that her Office treats these offences extremely seriously and stated "Data protection is about the citizen's fundamental right to privacy. My Office treats offences in relation to electronic marketing extremely seriously, vigorously prosecuting repeat offenders. The significant sums imposed today send a clear message that this type of marketing without consent is unacceptable".

What action could be taken to manage risks that may arise from this development?

Financial services companies should ensure any marketing activities are carried out with consents in place where necessary.

Submitted by Rowena McCormack, Associate at DAC Beachcroft – Dublin, Ireland in partnership with DAC Beachcroft.