Important Legal Changes to Direct Marketing when using SMS

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You may or may not be aware of changes happening to the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulation 2003 (‘PECR’) from 6th April 2015.

These changes are very important and affect every business contacting customers and potential customers by telephone or SMS communication that could be defined as direct marketing.


The reason for the change.

To tackle non-compliant unsolicited direct marketing by electronic means, which has become prevalent in the UK by making it easier to levy fines against non-compliant organisations or businesses that are repeat offenders.
 
Currently the law requires the Information Commissioner’s Office (‘ICO’) to prove a company caused ‘substantial damage or substantial distress’ by their conduct before action can be taken. As a result of a public consultation performed earlier this year, the Government is now removing this legal threshold, giving the ICO the power to intervene in more cases. This change will come into affect on 6th April 2015.
 
A copy of Consultation Response can be downloaded from here: www.gov.uk/government/uploads


Who does it affect?

Please do not be alarmed, as these changes directly address companies undertaking unsolicited direct marketing activities via SMS and that conform to the definition of SPAM. www.faretext.co.uk/anti-spam
 
These changes do not affect any companies sending texts as notification to the end-user as part of their service parameters but will affect anyone undertaking direct marketing via SMS. Predominately the changes will be to make sure that the data used is correctly and appropriately opted-in, that the message contains a clear opt-out mechanism and that the customers’ consent wishes are adhered to at all times. In addition, all companies should keep clear and accessible records on when the end-user opted in and opted out.


What can you do to make sure you’re compliant.

Please find attached a useful compliant checklist from the ICO to ensure all your marketing messages comply with the new legislation. www.ico.org.uk

Guide to PECR –  www.ico.org.uk/guide-to-pecr/

Direct Marketing guide – www.ico.org.uk/direct-marketing

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