DPR raps Centrica opt-out leaflet

The Data Protection Registrar has notified Centrica that it is consider- ing action against it for mailing an opt-out leaflet to its 19 million customers.

British Gas has been unable to use its database to promote the Goldfish card ever since Marketing Week revealed that it would contravene section 42 of the Gas Act (June 14 1996).

Now the gas supply giant, which recently demerged from British Gas, has begun mailing its customers this week with a leaflet that allows its Goldfish credit card to be marketed to British Gas customers.

The campaign, which launched on Monday, includes a leaflet which states: “If you’d like to be kept up to date with useful and relevant products and services – you need take no action at all. If you do not wish to receive information from us about products and services which we think will be of interest to you or do not consent to our passing information about you to other companies within our group, please complete and return the coupon below.”

The leaflet says that the database created by excluding those who opted-out of the mailings would allow Centrica to send information about, among other things the Goldfish credit card.

The leaflet is in direct contravention of statements made by the Data Protection Registrar Elizabeth France that negative consent was unfair. According to the DPR’s annual report last year, silence does not imply consent and companies who use negative consent to build their database are acting unfairly.

A spokesman for Centrica says that the DPR had not given approval for the mailing and had informed them it would compile a report and decide what action to take.

“We do not feel that we are doing anything in breach of the law,” he says.

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