Regulator cracks down on utilities mailshots

The Data Protection Registrar is moving to stamp out “host mailings” by electricity, gas and water companies.

The news comes after British Gas announced it is planning such a scheme for the autumn – a national Homemovers Welcome Pack targeted at customers who move to a new address. The scheme includes money-off vouchers for The Mail on Sunday and Daily Mail, Allied Carpets and B&Q.

Graham Best, DPR compliance manager for utilities and regulatory bodies, says the DPR has put the utilities companies on notice that if they breach Data Protection Principles, they may face prosecution.

The DPR is investigating the British Gas scheme.”It would contravene the requirements of fairness if British Gas is holding and using customer information for non-supply use,” says Best.

He adds that a new paper covering all utility companies will be published this month setting down guidelines. “The companies will be put on notice,” he adds. “Any utility company that continues host mailing risks enforcement action.”

News Analysis, page 21

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