Tag Archives: data protection commissioner

Facebook SMS Spam?

Since early September Facebook has been spamming me by text message. Each message comes from “FACEBOOK”, but I don’t have them in my phone contacts. By ringing them I found out the SMS message came from 32232665, apparently a number they use in many countries. The call never connected so I don’t know if there’s a human at the other end.

The first message read

Over 150 million people have used the Facebook friend finder. Find the people you care about: http://fb.me/….

while the following three messages are like the one pictured above:

There are 9 people you may know on Facebook. Send them friend requests: http://fb.me/…

I was travelling when I received most of the other ones. I’m sure I received at least 1 of them while in Heathrow. I don’t have the Facebook app on my phone, but I had created a test Facebook account. It was many months ago and I had forgotten I added my phone number there to try out their sms integration.

If I had noticed those settings I guessed I wouldn’t be contacted. After all, the account wasn’t under my name and I had used a x+yyyy@gmail.com account to signup so people wouldn’t find it by searching for that my email addresses.

Lastly, any SMS communication to someone in Ireland has to be accompanied by instructions for stopping them. Also go read A Consumer Guide to Dealing with Unsolicited Direct Marketing by the Data Commissioner:

you were given a simple cost-free means of refusing the use of your contact details for direct marketing purposes at the time your details were initially collected, and where you did not initially refuse the use of those details, you are given a similar option at the time of each subsequent communication.

The creepy thing about Facebook is that they have matched that account with my main account. Maybe it’s because I may have logged into it with a browser I used for my main one, or because of the gmail address I used. I get regular emails from them saying, “John, you have more friends on Facebook than you think…” or “Do you know X, Y, Z?” where x, y and z are people on my friend’s list. It’s really, really unsettling, even when I have a notion of how they do it.

So, should I make a complaint to the Irish Data Commissioner? Maybe they can convince Facebook to add STOP instructions to their SMS texts.

Guinness, say hi to the Data Protection Commissioner

This morning, Diageo Ireland (the company behind Guiness) spammed me again, despite my repeated attempts to remove myself from their mailing list.

Thanks to Damien who pointed me in the direction of the Data Protection Commissioner I filled out the complaint form with the following. The Commissioner’s Guidelines for marketing by electronic mail are quite clear and Diageo obviously ignore them. Hopefully something positive will come of this.

On the 8th of April, 2007 Diageo Ireland sent me an unsolicited email regarding a “poker nights” promotion. It appears that someone signed me up, but Diageo never confirmed the invitation. I did not opt in to receive any mailings from them. I also unsubscribed using their subscription page. More details, including commentary about the unsubscribe process are here: http://ocaoimh.ie/2008/02/07/a-pint-of-guinness-flavoured-spam/

Unfortunately, on June 20th 2008, I was spammed by them again. http://twitter.com/donncha/statuses/839602319
I unsubscribed again.

This afternoon I was sent another email from Diageo with the text:
“CONOR,
BECAUSE WE
DON’T WANT YOU TO BE
LEFT IN THE DARK…
Give us a few minutes and we’ll give you so much more
GIVE US A FEW MINUTES
AND WE’LL GIVE YOU
SO MUCH MORE”

Unfortunately I suspect I’ll always get spam emails from them despite the fact that I never signed up for anything, don’t drink Guinness and unsubscribed twice already.

Regards,
Donncha O Caoimh

Thinkhouse PR – what's up?

As Damien’s post is missing from Google I think it’s up to the rest of us to spread the word.

Despite contacting them several times over the course of a few weeks Thinkhouse PR continued to spam Damien with product announcements and press releases. On August 23rd he sent a formal complaint to the Data Protection Commissioner and being a blogger, wrote about it too. It is this post that has disappeared from Google’s search. It might be something as innocent as a Google refresh or it might be banned.

If you live outside Ireland, please search for “Thinkhouse PR” and leave a comment here if you see Damien’s post on the front page. Thanks.

Tom has also covered this issue and found out that the Data Protection Commissioner apologised to Thinkhouse PR for investigating them.

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!

Later.. Damien posted the letter he received from the Commissioner. They did investigate, but I think someone in Thinkhouse PR needs to come up with another reason. They stated that it took up to 2 days to remove a user from their lists. Unfortunately for them Damien received his last spam correspondence from them 14 days or more after contacting them. Someone should get a slap on the wrist for this.