Smart-phone app firm fined £45,000 for unsolicited texts

Taxi sign

Gaby Hardwicke partner Mark Williams is urging smartphone app businesses to review their data protection policies after a taxi-booking app firm was fined £45,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Cambridge-based Cab Guru Limited had breached data protection law by sending over 706,000 unsolicited marketing text messages. The company, set up by a consortium of local taxi and private hire firms, could provide no evidence that the customers had consented to being contacted in this way. Their contact details had been sourced from the existing customer records of members of the consortium. The infringement came to light after an ICO investigation, launched after 165 complaints were made about Cab Guru’s text messages.

The popularity of smartphone technology has seen the rapid rise of highly profitable app-based businesses. Often they are started by individuals or small groups with little knowledge of the legal responsibilities and liabilities that come with storing and using their customers’ personal data. As the number of app users grows, so does the risk of the app-based business inadvertently breaking the law.

Legal advice for smartphone app businesses

With the forthcoming May 2018 introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), it’s more important than ever for app-based businesses to take legal advice over their use of customer data.

Another important step for app-based firms is to implement a tailored, well-drafted set of terms and conditions (T&Cs). Though cutting costs by using ‘off-the-shelf’ T&Cs may be tempting, doing so could prove disastrous, potentially creating onerous liabilities for the businesses concerned.

To book a review of your company’s data protection policies and T&Cs, contact our specialist partner Mark Williams by email or call him on 01323 435900. To learn about Mark’s experience and expertise please view his website profile.

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