Verso Group data hoarder fined by UK watchdog

A company that specialises in asking the public to take part in “surveys” in which the answers are then used to target respondents with unsolicited marketing calls has been fined.

An investigation found Verso Group had not been clear about what it was doing.

The Hertfordshire-based company came to regulators’ attention after it was involved in one campaign that resulted in 46 million “nuisance calls” about payment protection insurance (PPI).

It has been ordered to pay £80,000.

The Information Commissioner’s Office said it was the first such penalty following a wider investigation into the so-called data broking industry.

“This type of unlawful data directly fuels the nuisance call and spam text industry and creates misery for millions of UK citizens,” said the ICO’s deputy commissioner, James Dipple-Johnstone.

“Businesses need to understand they don’t own personal data – people do.”

Although the ICO has the power to issue fines of up to £500,000, the sum is still likely to be significant to Verso.

According to accounts filed in May, the Hertfordshire-based company’s net assets totalled just £12,386.

A spokesman for Verso declined to comment.