Honda Motor Europe has been fined £13,000 by the Informational Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for sending hundreds of thousands of emails related to marketing.

The car manufacturer maintained that the emails were designed to clarify customers’ choices for receiving marketing, and classed them as customer service.

However, the ICO ruled that the 289,790 emails that Honda had sent to its customers were marketing, and send without consent.

Honda failed to provide evidence that the customers had given consent for the type of email, which the ICO stated was a breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).

Steve Eckersley, ICO head of enforcement, said: “Sending emails to determine whether people want to receive marketing without the right consent, is still marketing and it is against the law.”

The ICO said that companies may be reviewing their procedure for obtaining customer consent for marketing communications to comply with stronger data protection legislation that will come into effect in May next year.

Eckersley said that this did not excuse Honda’s actions, adding: “Businesses must understand they can’t break one law to get ready for another.”