On September 10, 2013, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) published guidance for companies receiving unwanted marketing (the “Guidance”). This Guidance was published as part of a broader focus on unwanted marketing in the UK.
The Guidance focuses on the application of the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 (“PECR”), which govern the sending of marketing communications by electronic means, such as telephone, fax, email and text message. There are fewer restrictions on direct marketing to companies than on direct marketing to individuals, but companies still have some protection from receiving unwanted marketing communications. The Guidance does not indicate any significant changes to the ICO’s existing views and practices, but it does provide helpful analysis on the protection that the PECR affords corporate bodies, which is an area that is sometimes overlooked.
The Guidance explains that corporate subscribers can opt out of receiving unwanted telephone and fax communications by signing up for the Corporate Telephone Preference Service (“CTPS”) and Fax Preference Service (“FPS”), respectively. Marketing organizations are prohibited from sending marketing communications to numbers that are registered with the CTPS or FPS. Alternatively, companies can opt out of receiving marketing calls or faxes by informing the direct marketer of that choice.
There is no equivalent to the CTPS or FPS, or any opt-out service, for direct marketing emails or text messages sent to companies. Although direct marketers are prohibited from concealing their identity and are required to provide contact information, which a company may use to ask a direct marketer to stop sending marketing materials via fax or email, direct marketers are not required to grant such requests.