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The Information Commissioner's Office recently listed on its website, firms over which it had concerns regarding unsolicited marketing calls. While these firms are reported to be working with the ICO to resolve the matter, the list acts as a stark reminder of the power of the Commissioner to supervise organisations' marketing techniques. Considering that the ICO can issue fines of up to £500,000 it is prudent to review the dos and don'ts of electronic marketing.
The general rule is that you can only carry out unsolicited electronic marketing if the person targeted has given their permission to be contacted. However, a 'soft opt-in' exception applies if all the following conditions are met;
The Direct Marketing Association operates the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) and Fax Preference Service (FPS) which allow people to register their numbers to opt out of receiving unsolicited calls or faxes. Senders are prohibited from sending messages to individuals or organizations that have registered with these services.
A sender must tell the recipient who they are and provide a valid contact address. While organisations do not need to grant consent to be contacted, the sender must still identify itself and provide an address.
The ICO has recommended the following approach:
"This is an indispensable aid to the busy company secretary. The text is clear, the precedents...