Financial Marketing – Opting in or out

Please note the Law may have changed since the publication of article.

Whilst voluntary codes of conduct may exist, there is no statutory provision for unsolicited mail in the UK. However when it comes to email it’s a different matter. Under UK law (Reg 22 of the ‘The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003’ you can only send unsolicited marketing emails to an individual subscriber unless he has previously consented to receive it, or:

  • You have already sold something to the recipient, and
  • You are marketing a similar product, and
  • You include an ‘unsubscribe’ option in each email.

Emails which conceal the identity of the sender are not permitted under the UK provisions. Similar regulations apply in other EU countries.

Recipients of spam can ‘bring proceedings for compensation’. The Information Commissioner can assist, but unlike provisions in other EU countries such as Italy, these regulations are entirely without teeth.

For most legitimate businesses, the fear of causing ill-will is a stronger incentive than any legislative provision not to spam. ‘Do as you would be done by’ is a good principle on which to proceed. ‘Opt in’ marketing schemes will be much more effective than ‘opt out’ ones. A marketing campaign that alienates consumers is clearly a non-starter.

If you plan to hire an external marketing firm, ask for their Data Protection and Consumer Privacy Policy. If they don’t have one, take a good hard look at whether you still want to work with them.

© This article is copyright Simon Halberstam 2008 and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion in any specific facts or circumstances. the contents are intended for generic information purposes only. You are urged to contact a suitably qualified lawyer for specific advice.