New Rules on Direct Marketing by Telephone and Fax

United Kingdom
The Telecommunications (Data Protection and Privacy) (Direct Marketing) Regulations 1998 came into force on 1st May 1999. The Regulations implement part of the European Directive (97/66/EC) on the processing of personal data and protection of privacy - the “ISDN Directive”.

The basic points are that:

  • If a business wishes to make unsolicited direct marketing calls by telephone to individuals and sole traders, and this applies to both customers and non-customers, the business will have to check that those persons have not registered with a national opt-out system (details to be announced) unless the business has the specific consent of those customers to direct market them by phone.

  • It will be unlawful to send unsolicited direct marketing by fax or automated calling systems without their being some human intervention.

  • Businesses will need to check against a further opt-out system before sending unsolicited direct marketing by fax to companies (as opposed to individuals).

  • The name of the caller must be quoted when direct marketing calls are being made together with the address or telephone number on which the caller can be reached on faxes and, if so requested, for phone calls.

  • The Regulations will apply to any calls made by a caller who is within the UK.

There are some outstanding issues which the Office of the Data Protection Registrar (which is enforcing the Regulations) needs to resolve:

  • Whether unsolicited e-mails are covered by the Regulations;
  • The difference between direct marketing and customer service.