Yesterday, the UK Information Commissioners Office issued a gambling spam warning to more than 400 companies involved in affiliate marketing.
Gambling Spam Warning
The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) announced yesterday that they were cracking down on the use of personal data in the online gambling sector. The ICO are targeting more than 400 companies who they suspect maybe using personal details for the promotion of online gambling websites.
Spam is an international word used to describe unsolicited messages sent out to people to promote a business or product. In this case the spam warning is centered around SMS or text messages. Affiliate Marketing has been around since the beginning of the internet and involves the promotion of a business or product in return for money. If there is a customer conversion the affiliate gets paid, a simple process but it is often abused.
Gambling companies are heavily involved is affiliate marketing because it costs them very little to recruit affiliate marketeers who get paid on a commission basis. The affiliate signs up to gambling company as an affiliate to the terms and conditions of that company. However, the affiliate is required to comply with the law, that may not be a written rule but everyone knows that. The problem is in understanding the law regarding unsolicited communications.
Role of the Information Commissioners Office
David Clancy an anti-spam investigation 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”. Furthermore, “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.”
David Clancy also said: “It’s thanks to consumers who have reported spam texts to us, as well as intelligence from other sources, that we have been able to
progress our investigations to this stage.”
The ICO has written to gambling companies demanding information regarding on how personal details are used to send out SMS messages. It would seem they already know the people involved. This action follows large numbers of SMS spam messages being linked to the gambling sector. The ICO are asking how many texts these gambling companies have sent.
Whether this is a shot across the bows of gambling companies remains to be seen. It would not be wise to ignore this warning because failure to comply with the law can result in a fine of up to £500,000.
The Information Commissioner Office, or ICO is the UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals. Visit the website to read more.
Look out here for updates and further gambling spam warnings.
Update May 2017 – This action resulted in many gambling organisations issuing warnings to their gambling affiliates.