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Lessons in PECR

"Privacy is about more than GDPR!"

Something most of our clients (and pretty much anyone who has ever spoken to me) have heard many times from me.

There is a difference between privacy and data protection, which I may well cover in another post one day, but for the purposes of discussing two monetary penalty notices issued by the ICO yesterday (15th June 2021) I will make a simple distinction.

Privacy is the right I have to protection against interference in, or arbitrary dissemination of information about, my private life or reputation.

Data Protection is the mechanism of laws, systems and controls that organisations follow to ensure they protect the information I share with them; including by respecting my right to privacy.

I’ll be the first to admit I sometimes use the two terms interchangeably for my own convenience, but when discussing the ICO’s recent fines against Papa Johns and Global One under PECR, I think the distinction is important.

So what happened?

Both organisations were fined following complaints about unsolicited text messages. Both were fined £10,000 for failing to comply with the requirements under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) surrounding consent to marketing and the ability to opt out.

The reasons each organisation was fined were different but, in both cases, they were more about systems and controls (the data protection aspect) than the unwanted, intrusive nature of unsolicited marketing (the consent/privacy aspect) .

I would urge you to read each of the monetary penalty notices yourself (it only takes about 5 minutes) but I’d like to point out how each is an example of respecting privacy and being able to demonstrate you have the right systems and controls under the Accountability principle.

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