DTI to ban e-marketing to non-customers

The latest e-communication regulations from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) have angered small businesses in the UK.

The DTI has deleted a clause in the draft regulations that allowed companies to e-mail and SMS all database contacts, provided the details had been acquired with the data subject’s consent and that each message allowed the recipient to unsubscribe. The final regulations allow companies to e-mail and SMS existing customers only.

Extraprise, a technology consultancy specialising in marketing and customer relationship management, believes the new ruling is a threat to small businesses. “Marketers will be forced to use less cost-effective methods of marketing,” says Extraprise co-founder Bill Blundon. “Young companies often use e-mail lists and direct marketing to build their primary local customer base and it is these that will be worst hit.”

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) welcomes the ruling, however, and hopes that it will help reduce the problem of unsolicited communications – spam. It also believes that the ruling is in line with the EU Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications. The new DTI regulations were created in response to the EU directive.

The DMA has also welcomed the DTI’s decision to postpone plans to allow companies to join the Telephone Preference Service. The TPS enables consumers to opt-out of unsolicited marketing calls, but the DTI plans to allow companies to join the scheme.

The DTI regulations will come into force on December 11 but the introduction of the corporate TPS scheme has been delayed until spring 2004 to allow for further discussion of the practical details.

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