IT: Consent matters! Italian Data Protection Authority: 840.000 Eur fine for marketing and advertising call without valid consent

2B Advice
The Italian Data Protection Authority, Garante per la protezione dei dati personali (Garante), fined the Italian Telecommunication company, Telecom Italia, with an administrative sanction of 840.000 Eur.

The penalty was charged because Telecom Italia made contact with a large number of private individuals to promote their services without previously having obtained a valid consent (art. 6 (a) GDPR) to do so.

The fine signed the end of a series of long and difficult legal actions (in 2007, 2013 and 20150) that started with people notifying the Garante about receiving unwanted marketing and advertisement phone call from the aforementioned company or from processors acting on its behalf.

From the investigation, it emerged that in 2015 Telecom and other 8 of its partner companies used a list of contacts containing the details of roughly 2 million individuals for an enormous marketing campaign with the scope of collecting their valid consents. The list in questions contained the data of ex-customers and individuals who did not provide the consent for the processing of their personal data. The violation committed by the Italian Telecommunication company are not only due to the processing of personal data for marketing purposes without having a valid consent. In certain cases, also the right to object (art.7 (4) (b) of the Personal Data Protection Code; art 21 (3) GDPR) express by some of the data subjects belonging to that list  has been ignored.

In addition to the aforementioned violations, Telecom Italia clearly did not respect the provision issued in 2007 by the Garante pursuant which the Italian company should have implemented measured to guarantee that the marketing campaign would target only those data subject that provided a valid consent to do so.

According to the Garante, the Italian Telecommunication company gathered in the past years (since 2007) enough knowledge on the data protection legislation and all its interpretative elements, to be able to make decisions in line with what established in the Italian data protection law. Therefore, the Garante considered those infringements as conscious choice to ignore the law and, due to the seriousness of the situation, issued the penalties of 840.000 Eur.

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