Sky shelves illegal data use plan

10 Dec 2007

The Data Protection Commissioner has suspended planned legal action against British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) Group after the company withdrew a customer notice that breached regulations governing data use.

Sky Ireland withdrew the notice, issued to Sky customers two weeks ago, that said the company would pass personal customer details among companies in the BSkyB Group and to other unnamed third-party companies for direct marketing purposes unless the customer objected using a specified telephone number.

The withdrawal follows an extraordinarily high number of complaints from Irish customers of Sky to the Data Protection Commissioner, Billy Hawkes. Furthermore, several customers reported extreme difficulty in trying to contact Sky about the notice.

Following contact with the Data Protection Commissioner, Sky has committed to issuing a revised notice to customers in the February edition of the Sky Magazine which will be published in January and to fully engaging with the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner in relation to its content.

In light of these undertakings, the commissioner has suspended planned legal enforcement action he had intended initiating on Friday.

“I welcome Sky’s voluntary withdrawal, in response to the concerns that have been raised with my office by some of its customers, of the unacceptable notice that issued in relation to its use of customer data,” said Hawkes. “The practices outlined in the notice were unacceptable for Irish data protection law. My office’s discussions with Sky have sought to ensure that the strong rights Irish citizens enjoy under Irish and European law are fully respected by the company. I look forward to a continuation of those discussions.”

By Niall Byrne