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ICO publishes guidance on direct marketing rules for public sector

05/08/21

Mark Say Managing Editor

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The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published guidance for public sector organisations on when rules for direct marketing apply to their messages.

Data protection key on keyboard

It is aimed at officials responsible for data protection, and while reflecting the fact that most messages from public authorities to individuals are unlikely to constitute direct marketing, some do and there is a need to comply relevant rules in the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Among the points of the guidance are that while public sector promotions necessary for a task or function are not classed as direct marketing, it can apply when they are related to fundraising or quasi-commercial activities such as leisure services.

There is also a need for extreme care in sending out a third party’s promotional messages even if it is another public sector body.

Get it right

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.”

He 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.”

Image from iStock, abluecup

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