The Information Commissioners Office will begin work on new direct marketing and data guidelines by the summer.
The news comes after MPs passed Government legislation that instructs the regulator to produce a new DM and data code.
The Digital Economy Bill was pushed through as part of the Government’s legislative ‘wash up’ before it shuts down for the election. A key element of the Bill is an instruction to the ICO to produce new guidelines on direct marketing and data practice.
As a result, the future of direct marketing and use of consumer data is likely to be decided upon within the next 12 months. The ICO will submit its recommended new guidelines for consideration by ministers. A government representative has already said that whatever rules ministers choose to adopt will become statutory law with powers to take offenders to court.
There is strong evidence to suggest that politicians are seeking a tightening up of regulation from the review. Comments made during debate on the Bill in the House of Commons were at times highly critical of the direct marketing sector, ranging from “the lowest of the low” to “could not be trusted”. MPs described practitioners as “rogues and shysters”, while the practice of direction marketing was labelled “a scam”.
However, within the new Bill the ICO will be given clear instruction that it must consult industry representatives as part of the guideline review process. This presents an opportunity for organisations from the direct marketing and data communities to formally put ideas forward to improve regulation standards.
“What ministers decide upon following the ICO’s review is likely to be the basis for direct marketing and data practice for at least 10 years,” said Dene Walsh, Operations and Compliance Director of Verso Group. “We need to take the opportunity to contribute to the outcome by putting forward robust recommendations that are clearly seen to safeguard the interests of the public as well as allowing directing marketing to operate freely.
“There are ways to do this in all areas of direct marketing and data, and it is important because rules that are seen to protect consumers are most likely to be adopted by the ICO and politicians. Simply putting our interests first will not work.”