Marketing

ICO release new guidance on direct marketing for public sector

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published a new resource to help public sector organisations understand when direct marketing rules will apply to their messages.

The guidance is aimed at those responsible for data protection within public sector organisations.

Direct marketing is broad and covers all types of advertising or marketing that is directed at individuals.

It involves any type of communication, including emails, text messages, direct messaging on social media and more traditional methods, such as phone calls and post.

It also includes commercial marketing (e.g. the promotion of products and services), as well as aims and ideals (e.g. fundraising and campaigning).

Any sector or type of organisation is capable of engaging in direct marketing.

However, the majority of messages that public authorities send to individuals are unlikely to constitute direct marketing.

Commenting, ICO Director, Anthony Luhman said:

“If you work in the public sector, the law doesn’t stop you from sending promotional messages when they are necessary for your task or functions.

“However, there are times when the direct marketing rules will apply and we want to help the public sector get it right.

“Our new guidance will help you understand how to send promotional messages in compliance with the law.

“Done properly, the public should have trust and confidence in promotional messaging from the public sector.”

If a message is direct marketing, public authorities need to comply with marketing rules in the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) if they are using electronic communications (e.g. phone call, email, text message).

However, regardless of whether a promotional message is direct marketing or not, public authorities must still comply with the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Mr Luhman added:

“It’s important to be transparent about what you intend to do with people’s personal data, including telling them about the types of messages you want to send.”

GDPR also gives people a right to object and this may apply even if a promotional message is not direct marketing.

The new guidance has more details on when this right may apply.


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