Rules for electronic and direct marketing

What is direct marketing?

Direct marketing involves a person being targeted as an individual, and the marketer attempting to promote a product or service, or attempting to get the person to request additional information about a product or service. Unaddressed mail received at your home is not covered by Data Protection legislation as no personal data is used. It also does not include market surveys seeking your views on say political matters or radio listenership preferences.

General rule

The basic rule that applies to direct marketing is that you need the consent of the individual to use their personal data for direct marketing purposes. As a minimum, an individual must be given a right to refuse such use of their personal data both at the time the data is collected (an "opt-out") and, in the case of direct marketing by electronic means, on every subsequent marketing message. The "opt-out" right must be free of charge.

You must also make clear who you are and where you obtained the individual's personal data (where this is not obvious).

What is an unsolicited communication?

Unsolicited communication is essentially something that was not sought or requested. If you have an ongoing, or recent, relationship with a person, then contact from that person might not be deemed to be unsolicited, as some form of consent may be present. In addition, where you have volunteered contact details in the course of completing lifestyle surveys or entering promotions, such details may have consent attached to their future use and subsequent contact may not be deemed to be unsolicited depending on what you knew when you provided them.

Can my mobile phone be targeted for marketing phone calls?

Under SI 336 of 2011 marketing calls to mobile phones are prohibited unless (i) the caller has been notified by the subscriber or user that he or she consents to the receipt of such calls on his or her mobile telephone, or (ii) the subscriber or user has consented generally to receiving marketing calls and that such consent to receive marketing calls is recorded in the NDD in respect of his or her mobile telephone number.

In relation to email and mobile phone text based direct marketing, it is an offence to send such communications to you without your clear consent in advance. In the case of businesses, messages can be sent until such time as the sender is asked to stop and any subsequent messages from that sender would then be an offence.

Are there ways of stopping unsolicited marketing contacts?

Unsolicited direct marketing mail can be stopped by sending back an opt-out from such contacts to the sender. A means of doing this should have been provided with the communication received. Your preference must be respected. If you have concerns as to where your information was sourced, you should seek an explanation from the company concerned. Where you are unhappy with the outcome please contact this office for further advice