'Irish Times' forced to pay €3,000 over unsolicited emails
'The Irish Times' and Littlewoods Ireland have been given chances to avoid criminal convictions for breaking e-privacy regulations by sending customers unsolicited emails.
Following separate investigations by the office of the Data Protection Commissioner, they pleaded guilty to the offences at Dublin District Court yesterday.
Judge John O'Neill said the cases would be struck out if the Irish Times Ltd gave €3,000 to suicide-prevention charity Pieta House, while Littlewoods must donate €5,000 to the same cause.
Tony Delaney, Assistant Data Protection Commissioner, told Judge O'Neill that the important message for companies involved in electronic marketing was that there had to be "robust testing of technology behind their databases".
The offence, which is under the European Communities (Electronic Communications Networks and Services) (Privacy and Electronic Communications) Regulations 2011, can result in a criminal conviction and a fine of up to €5,000 per incident.
In relation to The Irish Times Ltd, the Assistant Data Protection Commissioner told Judge O'Neill that a man had subscribed to their "Get Swimming" weekly newsletter but after three or four issues had opted out last year and received a confirmation email.
But he received the next issue and then made several further attempts to unsubscribe.
After a number of weeks still receiving the newsletter he contacted their customer care team.
Later he received an email with a promotional offer and another newsletter.
Mr Delaney said the man found it distressing and had concerns over the protection of his data.
Mr Delaney said that 64 other users were also affected but the fault had been corrected, "after two horses have bolted".