Optical Express and Thomas Cook involved in unsolicited marketing ruling

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We’ve all been there – you tick a box (or forget to untick a box!) confirming that you are happy to be contacted for marketing purposes – but exactly what sort of marketing are you expecting to receive? A recent ruling by the First-Tier Tribunal has provided further guidance on the scope of marketing services that you can be subjected to after providing your marketing consent.

In this case, Optical Express used personal data provided by a number of suppliers, including Thomas Cook, to send text messages marketing its eye surgery using laser. Following over 7000 complaints, the Information Commissioner served an enforcement notice requiring Optical Express (Westfield) Limited (Optical Express) to stop sending unsolicited marketing texts, in contravention of section 22(2) of the Privacy Regulations 2003 (as amended), to individuals whose details were obtained under data supplier agreements.

Optical Express’ position was sensibly that it had only contacted customers whose marketing consent had been validly obtained, namely through Thomas Cook’s marketing consent process. The response to this position was that the consent did not go far enough as it was not stipulated (or at least it has not been shown to have been stipulated) that the personal data would be processed by Optical Express in respect of eye surgery using laser. Furthermore, given the difference between Optical Express and Thomas Cook’s offerings, the specific types of products intended for marketing were not sufficiently stipulated as one might not naturally see the correlation between holidays and corrective eye surgery.

First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights), Optical Express and the Information Commissioner, 31 August 2015 (EA/2014/0014)

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