eircom, Meteor, O2 and Vodafone have been fined for breaches of data protection law on foot of complaints made by customers over spam emails and unsolicited calls and text messages.

The complaints related to breaches of specific rules on direct marketing that are enforced by the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) and involved calls, texts and emails being sent to individuals where they had either opted-out of receiving such communications or had previously indicated that they did not want to be contacted again.

The DPC’s strict stance in relation to enforcement of the rules on direct marketing was again evident in comments made by the Assistant DPC, Tony Delaney, who said that the charges brought against the four companies send “out a strong message to all business who engage in electronic marketing that breaches of the regulations will be prosecuted by the DPC and will be punished in the courts”.

These penalties highlight the importance of being aware of the rules on direct marketing and serve as a reminder to companies to seek advice before sending communications to customers or prospective customers so that DPC prosecutions and adverse media attention can be avoided.