Feeds

Email marketing abuse is rife among top UK companies

31% break anti-spam laws

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

A study of the UK's biggest companies has found 31 per cent of them breaking anti-spam laws by sending marketing emails without either prior consent or an existing customer relationship.

CDMS, a data and marketing firm, examined compliance with the EU Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications by the top 200 companies across 13 sectors, including banking, general insurance, retail and mobile telecoms.

The companies were tested to see whether they consistently offered non-customers the opportunity to actively opt-in or otherwise consent to further marketing emails when their details were recorded as the result of a promotion or enquiry. These promotions appeared either on the company's own website, through a partner company's website, in a third party e-newsletter, or as part of an advertising or direct mail campaign.

According to CDMS, 69 per cent of companies studied are compliant with the legislation, a modest improvement of three percentage points since its last survey in 2005.

Ian Hubbard of CDMS said: "Companies who have not complied are putting their carefully built brands at risk, by putting out the message to consumers that they apparently don't care about legislation designed to protect their prospective customers' privacy."

He added: "This effectively puts them in the category of junk emailers, and associating them with a rising tide of spam, and growing consumer concerns over the security of their personal records."

The Regulations that implemented the EU Directive have been in force since December 2003. To date, there have been only two court rulings on their anti-spam provisions. The first was in 2005, when chartered engineer Nigel Roberts won £300 in damages in an undefended action against a Scottish marketing firm. The second was last December, when Microsoft won a summary judgment to stop an individual selling lists of email addresses to spammers.

CDMS noted that non-compliant companies urgently need to put processes in place to limit their current risk. "In addition, there is a major forensic and clean-up job to be done on these companies' marketing databases," said Hubbard.

Struan Robertson, editor of OUT-LAW.COM and a technology lawyer with Pinsent Masons, said: "A lot of confusion continues to surround the rules on email marketing. Compliance is very important, but the rules are not as restrictive as many people think. There is a misconception that they demand opt-in marketing, which most people visualise as ticking a box. That's not what they say."

Robertson continued, "The rules talk about the need for prior consent. One way of getting that is to have a tick box – but that is just one way. Others exist. And if you're emailing existing customers to promote similar products to those they bought before, and these are people whose contact details you obtained when selling or negotiating a sale, prior consent is not needed – provided you identify your company, give an opt-out on collection of the email address and include an unsubscribe option with each email sent."

Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Related links

Email marketing – when to use opt-in and when to use opt-out
Microsoft wins ruling to ban spam list sales
Microsoft sues British spammer for Hotmail breach
Email marketing: prior consent does not mean opt-in
How to sue a British spammer

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Spies, avert eyes! Tim Berners-Lee demands a UK digital bill of rights
Lobbies tetchy MPs 'to end indiscriminate online surveillance'
How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?
Can you hear the difference? Can anyone?
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.