DPR acts to stop utilities flouting rules

The Data Protection Registrar will issue enforcement notices in the next two weeks against electricity companies which use piggy-back mailings offering third-party services to their customers.

The move will be the first time that the DPR has taken action on host mailings and could provide a test case if the electricity companies decide to fight it in the courts.

The DPR will issue enforcement notices to start proceedings against two electricity companies, one of which is London Electricity. It issued formal notices to the electricity companies last March to stop them breaking section 57 of the Electricity Act, which states that electricity companies are not allowed to use their databases for anything other than supply – notices which the companies defied.

It will also issue a formal notice against British Gas and the water companies, reminding them of the rules on using data; the formal notice comes before the rules are actually enforced.

If the companies do not comply, the DPR has the power to deregister them, which means they will not be able to use their databases.

Last year, Marketing Week revealed British Gas would break the law if it mailed a welcome pack to customers with its bills (MW June 14 1996). Last month, Marketing Week (January 31) pointed out that London Electricity was flouting the Data Protection Registrar’s rulings banning “host mailings”.

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