Most businesses are aware that they need to be careful when sending communication to individual consumers. However, if your company is inundated with spam and cold-calls it is useful to know your rights. The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has recently released a guidance note reminding companies of the options available to them, and the below provides a summary of the position.
The Data Protection Act 1998 provides individuals with a general right to make a written request for their details to not be used for direct marketing. However, whilst that right is not available to companies, there is other legislation (particularly the Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations 2003) which aim to provide companies with reduced protection.
Organisations are allowed to call companies for marketing purposes without asking first – unless it is done using an automated message, in which case you must have previously agreed to receive such calls in that way. Nevertheless if you are tired of your business being contacted by a specific cold calling organisation you can ask them to stop and they must comply. Alternatively, if you want to stop ANY cold-calls (other than those you have agreed to) then you can register all or some of your company’s telephone numbers with the Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CPTS). Cold callers should check the CPTS before making calls and are prohibited from calling numbers listed on it.
As with cold calls, your company is entitled to ask an organisation to stop sending spam fax communications. There is also a similar system to the CPTS (known as the Fax Preference Service (FPS)) so you can register your fax number(s) to prevent such correspondence.
SPAM E-Mail and Texts
Unlike with telephone calls and faxes, there is no automatic right for a company to demand that they are not contacted by email for marketing purposes. However, there are three important points to bear in mind here:
- Firstly, anyone sending such emails must make their identity clear and provide a contact address to which communications can be sent. Looking at the issue practically, organisations are contacting you in the hope you will use them in the future. Therefore whilst they are not obliged to comply, it would be a poor PR exercise for an organisation to continue sending material to a company which was becoming frustrated by their activities;
- If the email address to which the SPAM is sent can personally identify a specific employee (i.e. [email protected]) then that individual can exercise their right under the DPA noted above to request that the communication ceases;
- There is a system based in the USA which operates similarly to the CPTS and FPS (known as the EMPTS) whereby you can have an email address put on a register to notify potential ‘spammers’ that you do not wish to receive emails from them;
CPTS and FPS
Your company can register with the CPTS and FPS for free. You will need to register each number individually, and it is up to you whether you chose to register all numbers or just your switchboard or primary number – not least to ensure genuine enquiries are not waiting whilst you are dealing with cold callers! Any number registered would need to be renewed on an annual basis.
If you would like any more information on the matters discussed above, or any other IT, intellectual property or e-commerce issues, please feel free to get in touch with our Corporate Commercial Team on 0161 833 5686 or email