The Italian data protection authority (DPA) has ordered Vodafone to pay a fine in excess of €12 million due to it having processed the personal data of millions of users for telemarketing purposes. In addition to having to pay the fine, the company will also be required to implement several measures in order to comply with national and EU data protection laws.
This ruling follows the DPA having received hundreds of complaints and alerts submitted by users regarding unsolicited calls made by Vodafone and/or the company’s sales network in order to promote telephone and internet services. In particular, the DPA identified shortcomings of a structural nature regarding the failure by Vodafone to obtain consent for such marketing, as well as violations of the principles of accountability and data protection by design as required by the General Data Protection Regulation.
The DPA also raised concerns about the purchasing of contact lists from external providers, which had been obtained by Vodafone’s business partners from other companies and transferred to Vodafone without the users’ required consent. As a result, the DPA banned Vodafone from further processing data for marketing or commercial purposes where such data was acquired from third parties that have not obtained users’ free, specific and informed consent to the data disclosure.
In addition to the fine, the DPA ordered Vodafone to implement systems to demonstrate that processing for telemarketing purposes complies with consent requirements. Vodafone will be required additionally to provide proof that contractual arrangements are activated only following telemarketing calls placed by their owned sales network. Furthermore, stronger measures will have to be implemented by the company to prevent unauthorised access to the customer database, and the company was also ordered to reply in full to certain data subject access requests.
The full ruling (in Italian) is accessible here.
A summary of the ruling (in English) is accessible here.
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