The perennial problem of SPAM continues to bother both privacy regulators and marketers (not to mention annoying a fair number of consumers). Seemingly countless international anti-SPAM groups have formed and met to mutter their discontent, but to date at least, their efforts have had little real impact on the SPAM scourge.
And a scourge it is, especially for legitimate marketers who want to use the email channel for their own messages and are finding themselves crowded out of the in-box by spurious offers for Viagra and dubious stock tips. Notwithstanding that the European Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications and the US Can SPAM legislation have laid down the law on email communications there are still far too many non-legitimate sources of email data being offered for rental and sale; these list sources, in turn, feed the non-legitimate marketers with the vital contacts they need.
In the UK, the Information Commissioner’s Office has re-issued its guidance on marketing by electronic means which includes a stark warning to marketers that they will be held responsible for email campaigns if the data they use proves to have been collected unfairly. It is the client’s responsibility to check the provenance of the data they are using and to demand proof of consent from any 3rd party data supplier.
What the ICO regards as “reasonable” due diligence is pretty comprehensive:
– Who compiled the list? When?
– Has it been amended or updated since then?
– When was consent obtained?
– Who obtained it and in what context?
– What method was used – eg was it opt-in or opt-out?
– Was the information provided clear and intelligible?
– How was it provided – eg behind a link, in a footnote, in a pop – up box, in a clear statement next to the opt -in box?
– Did it specifically mention texts, emails or automated calls?
– Did it list organisations by name, by description, or was the consent for disclosure to any third party?
– Has the list been screened against the TPS or other relevant preference services? If so, when?
– Has the individual expressed any other preferences –eg regarding marketing calls or mail?
– Has the seller received any complaints
– Is the seller a member of a professional body or accredited in some way?
Legitimate Email list suppliers will now have to be willing to provide all of this if they want to stay in business.
Published April 2015
The information provided and the opinions expressed in this document represent the views of the Data Protection Network. They do not constitute legal advice and cannot be construed as offering comprehensive guidance on the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or other statutory measures referred to.