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Plusnet Breach of Data Protection Act.

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Plusnet Breach of Data Protection Act.

I OPTED OUT of receiving marketing messages and STILL they send me messages. I think this is a fundamental Plusnet community issue and a breach of the "Duty of Care" Plusnet has to its customers.

I spoke to the information commissioners office this morning and this is definately a breach of the act.

The breach in in two areas, firstly because the message does not provide an opt out email or link but rather takes you to a 32 page 13500 word list of terms and conditions.

The second breach to is to mail people who have already opted out.

This is not the first time this has happened and one wonders what it will take to get Plusnet to behave in a responsible and legal manner.

Plusnet tell me it was a mistake in the tool used to send the mailing, but if you were to ask BT or any other public company they would show you that the details of customers who opt out are protected from such errors. After the cunning stunts to do with the FUPSUP I am minded to think that this was a deliberate "mistake" because the phone service is their only weapon against the TalkTalk threat.

Use this poll to send a message to Lee Strafford (Chief Executive Officer) asking him to do the following:

1. Include a direct and clear link to the opt out page in messages you send out.

2. Change the wording of the opt out page which is bordering on a threat and is apparently untrue anyway as they will still send you service messages.

3. Give customers a page that give them a choice of what messages they wish to receive.

4. Once someone opts OUT remove the capability of your staff to mail them.

If like me you wish to take things further then join me in making a complaint via the information commissioners office.

Go to

http://www.ico.gov.uk/eventual.aspx?id=95

Then scroll down to the section that says

# Unsolicited Direct Marketing Complaints Form - Electronic Mail (text, pictures, video messages and emails) (pdf)
# Unsolicited Direct Marketing Complaints Form - Electronic Mail (text, pictures, video messages and emails) (word)

and download the word or PDF file and send it by post.

If you think it will help you could write to

Lee Strafford
Chief Executive Officer
PlusNet Plc
Technology Building
Terry Street
Sheffield
S9 2BU

A short term solution you may want to consider is to forward messages from autoemail@plus.net to thisisspam@YOURACCOUNT.plus.com and to forward it to web based spam solution providers.

or setup an autoforward to forward messages from autoemail@plus.net to marketing@plus.net

If this were any other public company you could accept the excuses but Plusnet is a computing company and knows better.
20 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 26,375
Thanks: 632
Fixes: 8
Registered: 10-04-2007

Plusnet Breach of Data Protection Act.

thisisspam stopped being used for training the spam solution months ago!
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
   Why I have left Plusnet (warning: long post!)   
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grahamv
Grafter
Posts: 46
Registered: 27-07-2007

Plusnet Breach of Data Protection Act.

Oh dear. Another pointless rant has started.

So an in-house marketing email has been erroneously sent to everyone, rather than just to those who didn't opt out - for which Plusnet have already apologised. And on the same day I suspect you received several dozen REAL spams,. even after the filters were applied.

This sort of knee-jerk whining is getting to be too much - all part of the compensation culture I suppose.

And your poll does not allow for the most appropriate response "It doesn't worry me one iota"
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Plusnet Breach of Data Protection Act.

@Venables
Agreed;

PN made an error - they apologised promptly and took action to prevent it continuing. They promised to address the issue so it would not be repeated.
The apology was made by the head of the Marketing Team, rather than being left to the comms team to apologise on his behalf.
What more could they have done? (Except the obvious reply of not making the mistake - but who is perfect?)
I really don't think that there's much reason to be worried about the protection of my data.
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Re: Plusnet Breach of Data Protection Act.

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A short term solution you may want to consider is to forward messages from autoemail@plus.net to thisisspam@YOURACCOUNT.plus.com and to forward it to web based spam solution providers.


Yea I am am going to waste time doing all that are'nt I?......... unless this takes less time than the half a second it takes to hit the delete button.

How do they keep coming up with all these great ideas for polls? and to reiterate someone else question why did you not add a "who cares" option because I certainly don't
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Plusnet Breach of Data Protection Act.

Is the odd junk email or letter that important to get heated up about? You are not forced to read them, it take a few seconds to delete or put in the bin.

On the other hand I could understand it if it was unsolicited telephone calls. These you have to answer because even with caller display you can't ignore withhold numbers. When you tell the unsolicited caller that you are not interested in what they selling and that the call is costing you money they think you are rude. It cost money because if you divert calls to you mobile and you are working abroad it cost £1 just to answer the call. Over the years unsolicited calls has cost me a small packet. Been greatly improved since signing up for BT TPS service.
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Plusnet Breach of Data Protection Act.

I forget - could somebody clarify please.
I thought that upon signing up, there was a tick box asking you to tick if you would like to receive marketing?

Or was it one asking you to tick it if you do not want to receive marketing?

(It may be relevant...)
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Plusnet Breach of Data Protection Act.

I bet you could also sue plusnet because you're loosing sleep and having flashbacks and have whiplash.

Just an idea for you.

FYI theres an option to opt out when you sign up and the link to the t's and c's isn't that bad, there are very few hyperlinks in the t's and c's (bold text in purple) and one of them takes you to the opt out. I counted 6 hyperlinks, the third one being the relevant one. you can also raise a ticket/question to opt out.

Imagine what you could have achieved today if you had directed all this effort into something else.

Plusnet have said it was an error and said sorry. Hardly world ending stuff.
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Plusnet Breach of Data Protection Act.

PN's Neil Armstong clearly apologised earlier for the spam and I consider that matter finished.

However, there should be an unsubscribe link in all emails.

Quote


Rather extreme with very little to choose from? I guess like many others I'll be voting for neither.
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Plusnet Breach of Data Protection Act.

Just had a scan through the Information Commisioners website, and the section referring to my rights contains the following passage about junk mail.
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Preventing junk mail
You have the right to request in writing that a data controller does not use your personal data for direct marketing by post (sometimes known as junk mail), by telephone or by fax.
Your request must be complied with. There are no exceptions to this.
You can also register with the mailing preference service (tel: 020 7766 4410), the telephone preference service (tel: 0845 070 0707) and the fax preference service (tel: 0845 070 0702).
Once you have done this you should not receive any direct marketing unless you have asked for it or if you are an existing customer of the organisation.

Note that I can only see references to Postal, Telephone and Facsimilie Marketing in the Act, not anything about e-mail marketing.


The regulations relating to electronic marketing are actually part of the PRIVACY AND ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS (EC DIRECTIVE) REGULATIONS 2003

These regulations are fairly wordy, but do make it clear that if you have specifically stated that you do not want them, they can't send you them, but in PN's case, you merely state that you would 'prefer not' to receive them, rather than refusing them altogether at time of sign up.

Below are the regulations which apply, and I suspect that any legal team could argue that PN acted lawfully in sending the messages, even if they sent the messages by accident. And in future PN have committed to refrain from sending marketing messages to those who expressed a preference to not receive them, which is above and beyond the base legal requirement.

The simple means of refusing could be referring to the ticket (question) system, thus keeping PN within the law.

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What is “soft opt-in” (Regulation 22(3))?
This is what the law goes on to state:
You may send or instigate the sending of electronic mail for marketing purposes to an individual_subscriber where
1. you have obtained the contact details of the recipient in the course of a sale or negotiations for the sale of a product or service to that recipient;
2. the direct marketing material you are sending is in respect of your similar products and services only; and
3. the recipient has been given a simple means of refusing (free of charge except for the cost of transmission) the use of his contact details for marketing purposes at the time those details were initially collected and, where he did not refuse the use of those details, at the time of each subsequent communication.
In other words, if you satisfy these criteria, you do not need prior consent to send marketing by electronic mail to individual subscribers. If you cannot satisfy these criteria you cannot send marketing by electronic mail to individual subscribers without their prior consent.


I do not think any of these regulations make one iota of difference to the view that any official body would make of the situation, but I think they do re-inforce what a futile effort it would be to attempt any official complaint in this case.

My tuppence anyhow.... I hope my limited research has been accurate - feel free to correct me and my interpretation. Wink
Community Veteran
Posts: 4,729
Registered: 04-04-2007

Re: Plusnet Breach of Data Protection Act.

7 Votes and 150+ abstentions (Based on pages views.)

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A short term solution you may want to consider is to forward messages from autoemail@plus.net to thisisspam@YOURACCOUNT.plus.com and to forward it to web based spam solution providers.

Brilliant idea, considering other uses are already suffering because Plus.Net’s mail servers are being blacklisted by some anti-spam solutions.

Quote

or setup an autoforward to forward messages from autoemail@plus.net to marketing@plus.net

Now I like your style here.

Chilly
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Plusnet Breach of Data Protection Act.

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Oh dear. Another pointless rant has started.

So an in-house marketing email has been erroneously sent to everyone, rather than just to those who didn't opt out - for which Plusnet have already apologised. And on the same day I suspect you received several dozen REAL spams,. even after the filters were applied.

This sort of knee-jerk whining is getting to be too much - all part of the compensation culture I suppose.

And your poll does not allow for the most appropriate response "It doesn't worry me one iota"


It is not a pointless rant, it is a breach of the law, perhaps if I subscribe graham@venables.plus.com to a few million spammers you will appreciate why it is important.

Do you love Plusnet so much that anything goes?

We have seen other companies use sharp practice like changing your gas company without your permission or your telephone line. It all fine with Graham.

Hey Graham send me your phone number I will give it to all the double glazing companies so that they can call you even if you have opted out using the telephone preference service. We can also give it to people who sell kitchens, drives, roofing etc.

I don't want compensation, I never asked for it so I don't know where you got that from. All I want and all I have ever wanted from Plusnet is an honest decent service and to be treated with the basic respect any customer deserves.

What you are missing here Graham is that I was on here a month ago because they started spamming me about selling me kit. http://portal.plus.net/central/forums/viewtopic.php?t=41858&highlight=

I was told go and opt out, but it is really hard to find and buried in 32 pages, yes 32 pages of terms and conditions. Is this some stunt to confuse people or what. Later I was told of a direct link so why can't they include that in their emails?

http://www.plus.net/my.html?action=modifyMailOptions

So when I followed the link it gave me a grave warning suggesting that if I opt out I may not ge advised of important messages and suggests that I check the site.

I can only imagine is intended to scare people off. I am IT savvy but a typical subscriber would probably be put off. I have a problem with this, if British Gas told you that if you opted out of receiving direct mail they would not tell you if you had a gas leak or when they were cutting off the gas in your street to perform maintenance would you accept it?

So finally I opted out, only to get spammed AGAIN.

Why is this important? Simply because Plusnet says"We take the protection of your privacy seriously. We'll only ever use your personal information to contact you in accordance with the choices you've made below...This commitment is described in our Terms and Conditions of Use and Privacy Policy".

First allowing staff to make a mistake is not taking things seriously. I work with patient data in one of my jobs, patients are able to opt out of having their data shared. Once they make this request the data is moved to protected tables in the database. So that mistakes can't be made.

One of the things I like about Plusnet is that I have a whole sub domain, I use this to control who I give my email address to, so I might register on eBay as eBay721@ibc01.plus.com. Recently I started getting spammed on this address. Now I can see who the spam comes from and create a mailbox for eBay721 and completely avoid the spam.

Plusnet uses "postmaster" to send it SPAM to me this is an abuse of its position.

When you sign up to BT Privacy they register you with the telephone preference service and give you caller ID free. What they don't tell you is that they exclude themselves. They then have people call you from other countries on what is a religious holiday in the UK (Easter). Is this acceptable?

Where do you draw the line Graham? I saw a product the other day that allows you to SPAM anyone in the vacinity who has left their bluetooth on and left the default password.

I expect this from spammers but not from a long term and trusted supplier.

Exactly what is a commitment to Plusnet? If I can't take it's word on this, what can I take it's word on?
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Plusnet Breach of Data Protection Act.

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@Venables
Agreed;

PN made an error - they apologised promptly and took action to prevent it continuing. They promised to address the issue so it would not be repeated.
The apology was made by the head of the Marketing Team, rather than being left to the comms team to apologise on his behalf.
What more could they have done?


I did not get any apology or explanation.

Well perhaps I am used to working with professional people who take security and data protection seriously. To me there is no middle ground, it is either secure or NOT.
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Plusnet Breach of Data Protection Act.

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Just had a scan through the Information Commisioners website,

The regulations relating to electronic marketing are actually part of the PRIVACY AND ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS (EC DIRECTIVE) REGULATIONS 2003

These regulations are fairly wordy, but do make it clear that if you have specifically stated that you do not want them, they can't send you them, but in PN's case, you merely state that you would 'prefer not' to receive them, rather than refusing them altogether at time of sign up.
Wink


You are right it is wordy which is why I rang them up to clarify it.

You are right about the act, I wrote the headline before they told me which specific act applies. The PDF I referred to is the specific act.

They were very clear that it is my right to opt out of such mails and that Plusnet was breaking the law by not providing a proper opt out email or link. She suggested that I could also report Plusnet to Office of fair trading and said that although OFCOM don't deal with individual cases they would be interested to hear of organisations that are abusing their position to "get around" the legislation.

Plusnet's use of Prefer does not give them the right, they would be on very slippery ground if they said that as they would confirm that they had in fact been informed of my opt out.
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Re: Plusnet Breach of Data Protection Act.

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7 Votes and 150+ abstentions (Based on pages views.).....
Chilly


Every time I load that page it counts as a view, so not really relevant.

The are spam servers where one can undo misreporting of servers.

Perhaps I should create a mailbox for postmaster if it lets me, but then I really would miss important messages.