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Company fined £100,000 for sending out millions of 'spam' texts

The company sent out more than three million text messages Credit: ITV

A Hampshire company has been fined £100,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for sending millions of spam texts about mobile phone upgrades.

The ICO’s investigation, informed by more than 1,000 complaints from the public, found Onecom Limited broke the law which sets out strict rules about the consent people must give to receive marketing text messages.

Between 26 October 2015 and 2 June 2016, 1,050 complaints were made to the '7726 spam text reporting service', or directly to the ICO, about the text messages.

Onecom could not provide evidence to the ICO explaining the source of the data used to send the 1,050 text messages. The firm could also not provide evidence that it had consent to send the text messages. Onecom confirmed it had sent 3.3m text messages between 1 October 2015 and 31 March 2016.

Spam texts are a real nuisance to millions of people across the country and this firm’s failure to follow the rules drove over 1,000 people to complain.

I would urge anyone bothered by a spam text to report it, either via the ICO’s website or by forwarding the text to 7726. Your reports will help us crack down on those who fail to treat people’s information with the respect it deserves.

– Steve Eckersley, ICO Head of Enforcement

Onecom operates in a highly regulated sector and is utterly committed to upholding the highest standards in all our communications with our clients and the public. Consequently we consider this incident to have been most serious and have undertaken an internal review which has resulted in our further tightening our systems and controls to ensure that there is no repetition. We are pleased to note that no subsequent complaints have been received and that the Information Commissioner has acknowledged our remedial measures.

– Darren Ridge, CEO of Onecom

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Police conclude that some drivers are addicted to their phones

Many drivers are continuing to use their phones at the wheel Credit: ITV

Surrey Police issued more than double the usual number of penalties during the Force’s latest crackdown on the use of mobile phones.

For an average week during 2015/2016, 28 drivers were issued with a Traffic Offence Report for using a phone while driving but during the latest #ItCanWait enforcement week 63 motorists were issued with Fixed Penalty Notices. These resulted in a £200 fine and six penalty points on licences.

The new increased penalties which saw fines and the number of points double were introduced at the start of March to reflect the seriousness of the offence and its impact on collisions. In support of a national week of enforcement (1 March 00:01 – 7 March 23:59) Surrey and Sussex Police intensified activity to target motorists who continued to ignore the law and picked up their mobiles.

Officers from Operations Command, supported by Special Constables, Casualty Reduction and Area Patrol Teams, deployed staff to carry out high visibility and covert operations throughout the week. The majority of drivers stopped were men over the age of 25 years old who were driving a car on an urban road.

Those people who remain addicted to their phones need to realise that we will continue to target them, as they do not see the risks of what they are doing and continue to put other road users at risk.

– Surrey and Sussex Roads Policing Unit

Teenager to lose licence after using phone behind wheel

Police are on the lookout for illegal phone use Credit: ITV

A teenage driver, caught using his mobile phone behind the wheel in Abingdon, has become one of the first to lose his licence in a police crackdown.

The 19-year-old was one of ten drivers stopped on the A34 on Wednesday. Motorists caught using their phones while driving now face six points instead of three and a £200 fine. Those who have held their licence for less than two years will have to re-take their test.

Is hands-free safe? Researchers say it's just as distracting as using a mobile

Think talking hands free on a mobile phone is safe? Well think again. According to new research - going 'hands-free' is just as distracting as holding a mobile.

Researchers at the Univeristy of Sussex claim drivers using hands-free, failed to identify hazards - even when looking directly at them.

Sarah Saunders reports.

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190 drivers stopped for using their mobile phone behind the wheel

Almost 200 drivers have been caught using their mobile phone behind the wheel during a week-long crackdown by police across Hampshire.

A total of 190 drivers were stopped by Roads Policing Officers from the Joint Operations Unit at the end of last month as part of a nationwide initiative to make the roads safer.

This is a 36% increase compared to this time last year when 141 motorists were caught using their phones while driving.

One driver in Aldershot was even stopped while on his way to a mobile phone referral course having been stopped already once before.

190 drivers were stopped in Hampshire last month for using their mobile phone whilst driving Credit: ITV Meridian

"These results are disappointing as it shows too many people still do not understand the dangers of using a mobile phone whilst driving. The majority of people know they should not be using their phone whilst driving, but appear not to understand what a huge distraction it is.

“This just shows the reason why we need to run such campaigns and remind people of the dangers and prosecute those who feel it is still acceptable to take that risk.

“My advice is to turn your phone off whilst driving, put it out of reach and view, this way you will not be tempted to look at it and become distracted. It's not worth the risk.

“Distraction can be a major contribution in collisions and by using your phone you are four times more likely to be involved in a collision as your reaction times can be around 50 per cent slower."

– Hampshire Constabulary’s Road Safety Sergeant Rob Heard
  1. David Johns (@davidjohns_itv)

New tech warns phone-addict drivers

We all know it's against the law but thousands of drivers in the south-east are still using their mobile phones behind the wheel, making calls, texting, and even taking pictures.

In Sussex last year, more than 1,800 drivers were caught using a phone while driving. And in Kent, more than 1,000 drivers were given penalties in 2014.

Now a trial has started in Sussex of an "intelligent lamppost" that can detect when a phone is being used in a car - and it flashes a warning - telling you to stop doing it.

But will it work? David Johns investigates. He speaks to Carl Knapp of the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership; Peter Rodger of the Institute of Advanced Motorists; and sign manufacturer Tim Barnett.

School principal explains why mobile phones have been banned

The debate's been running for years: are mobile phones bad for children ?

Now, at least, in one part of the South East, and for one age group, that question has been answered.

Ebbsfleet Academy in North West Kent has banned mobile phones - with impressive results.

Alison Colwell is in charge of the school. She told Sangeeta why the ban had been introduced

Huge improvement in GCSE results after banning of mobile phones

The phones are banned at Ebbsfleet Academy Credit: ITV

GCSE results at the Ebbsfleet Academy in Kent are almost twice as good since the school banned smartphones in 2013.

Jon Coles, the head of United Learning, which oversees around 50 schools, says the costs of allowing the use of mobile phones in school are much greater than the opportunities.

The White Horse Federation of seven primary schools in Swindon also bans mobile phones during the school day in order to improve pupil behaviour.

Technology is transforming society and even classrooms - but all too often we hear of lessons being disrupted by the temptation of the smartphone.

Learning is hard work and children are all too aware of this. So when they have a smartphone in their pocket that offers instant entertainment and reward, they can be easily distracted from their work.

This is a 21st Century problem and the majority of schools are dealing with it effectively. But I will now probe deeper into this issue, and behaviour challenges more broadly, to uncover the real extent of the problem and see what we can do to ensure all children focus on their learning.

– Tom Bennett, school behaviour expert
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