Tag: unsolicited_commercial_emails

Data Protection Commissioner apologises for "having to" investigate complaint?

The Data Protection Commissioner in Ireland has a statutory obligation to follow up on all complaints received regarding abuse of someone’s personal data.

Under section 10 of the Data Protection Acts, 1988 and 2003, the Commissioner must investigate any complaints which he receives from individuals who feel that personal information about them is not being treated in accordance with the Act, unless he is of the opinion that such complaints are “frivolous or vexatious”.

Damien Mulley recently complained to the Data Protection Commissioner about unsolicited commercial emails (spam) he received from Thinkhouse PR despite asking that his email address be removed from their database.

Bizarrely, Jane McDaid of Thinkhouse PR in a comment on James‘ site said that the Data Protection Office had apologised for having to follow up the complaint!

the DAta Protection AGency has reverted to THPR on the matter to which you refer. THey have confirmed that no further action will be taken against THinkhouse. They also apologied for having to follow the complaint up.

I’m sorry, what? The Data Protection Commissioner apologised for having to follow up on a complaint from a member of the public? Really? Oh, I’d love to hear the reason for that apology or see documentary evidence of the apology. Not that I doubt Jane’s word that they did apologise, I’m just curious to see what the grounds for the apology were to a company which had sent unsolicited emails.

If this is the case (and I am not calling Jane or Thinkhouse PR liars – if Jane said the Data Protection Commissioner apologised, then I’m sure they did), just who is the Data Protection Commissioner acting for?

Thinkhouse PR

Damien’s post on Thinkhouse PR appears to have been removed from the Google index.

If you do a Google search for the post, you can find a copy of it in Irishblogs.ie but not the original post on Damien’s blog. The post is still in MSN and Yahoo according to Damien. How bizarre!

The only explanation which makes any sense to me is that Google might have removed the post from their index if they received a legal letter from Thinkhouse PR (or perhaps some concerned web surfer acting in their interest).

I could be more direct in my assertions if the libel laws in this country weren’t so strict.

The text of Damien’s post was innocuous enough to my mind – he merely mentioned that he had complained them to the Data Protection Commissioner for repeatedly sending him unsolicited commercial emails (spam) despite being asked not to.

With Damien’s permission, here is the text of his banned post:

Hi everyone in Thinkhouse PR! As promised, here is my formal complaint to the Data Protection Commissioner for being repeatedly spammed by you on behalf of your clients. Just so you know I’ve also, as promised, contacted Three, Imagine and Ben and Jerry’s Ireland and asked them to investigate why I am getting spams about their products from you.

I’m writing to make a formal complaint against Thinkhouse PR for continually sending unsolicited emails to one of my email accounts despite being asked not to. The email account in question is info [at] irelandoffline.org a part-time non-commercial voluntary group.

Enclosed are 5 sets of documents. Thinkhouse contacted info@irelandoffline.org (which is shared with a colleague John Timmons) initially on behalf of their client Imagine who were releasing a new broadband product. We did not ask to be put on further email distributions for Imagine or for anyone else.

Despite this, on Fri August 4th Jane McDonald from Thinkhouse sent an email promoting an initiative from Ben and Jerry’s. (See document No. 2) Ben and Jerry’s are a client of Thinkhouse. My reply to this unsolicited email is at the end of the document.

Jane McDonald replied to this (see document No. 3) and gave the excuse that there was some kind of slip and my email address was put into a personal circular. I would not consider it was a personal mail. Jane seems to suggest that Thinkhouse are aware of spamming laws.

On August 18th Thinkhouse PR sent me another mail, a press release for the mobile phone operator “3�. (See document no. 4. This document is the back and forth communication between myself and Thinkhouse PR.) At the top of the document is a communication from Jane McDonald telling me once again I’m off everyone’s list after I again requested it. Jane also admits to using my email address without permission to add me to their mailing lists.

On August 22nd (see document No. 5) Andrea Horan from Thinkhouse PR again sent me a PR, this time for another of their clients. This one for Moviestar.ie.

I wish for the Data Protection Commissioner to investigate this and carry out a prosecution if needs be. I am willing to travel to Dublin, I am willing to make a written statement and I am willing to testify in Court if the need arises. Thinkhouse PR is contravening the Irish Spam Legislation and it is totally disregarding my repeated requests to stop being sent information. I have also asked for my contact details to be removed from their systems and this has been disregarded too.

Please contact me on receipt of this complaint. Contact details are above.
Regards,
Damien Mulley