The ICO released guidance on making live marketing phone calls, to help organisations remain in compliance with the PECR.
The ICO has released guidance for organisations on live phone calls made for marketing purposes, to help organisations to remain in compliance with the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), also known as ePrivacy Regulations. It is important to be knowledgeable on the PECR rules before making live calls, as many people find unsolicited live marketing calls intrusive, or to be a nuisance. Going about live marketing calls the wrong way can not only damage an organisation’s reputation, but can also result in fines. The ICO guidance covers not just what you must do to comply with PECR if you want to make live marketing calls, but also gives recommendations on what the ICO considers important to help organisations comply, wherever the word “should” is used rather than “must”, noting that these are not requirements, but helpful recommendations.
The ICO guidance clarifies what constitutes a live marketing call.
Under the Data Protection Act 2018, direct marketing is defined as “the communication (by whatever means) of advertising or marketing material which is directed to particular individuals.” This covers both commercial advertising including products and services, as well as the promotion of ideals, as is the case with campaigning or even fundraising. Live calls made for administrative or customer service purposes are not included, for example, calls to confirm someone’s correct details or to advise them of an issue with their account. Live calls for genuine market research are not considered marketing calls, however, if any promotional content is included on the call, this constitutes a live marketing call.
The rules for live marketing calls vary depending on whether a call is solicited or unsolicited.
Some of the rules for live marketing calls only apply to unsolicited calls. If someone specifically asked you to call them for marketing information, this is considered a solicited marketing call. For example you can call someone about a marketing promotion if they specifically ask you to, without even needing to check the number with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). Unsolicited live marketing calls refer to marketing calls which someone has not specifically requested. These calls can only be made to persons who are not listed under TPS or CTPS. There is information that must be provided on every live marketing call, regardless of whether the call is solicited or unsolicited. This information can be found here for reference, and includes the name of your organisation, as well as a phone number if asked. When making live marketing calls your phone number must not be hidden under any circumstances.
TPS and CTPS lists must be strictly adhered to, otherwise organisations may be met with complaints and even fines.
The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) and the corporate version, the Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS), are statutory registers of those who don’t want to receive live marketing calls. They both work in the same way, but the CTPS is for corporate subscribers to use. This list is free to sign up to, and numbers included on this list must never be called for marketing purposes or any call that includes promotional content, unless (as stated earlier) when these calls are solicited. Failure to do so is likely to result in complaints and may even result in hefty fines. The PECR also covers specific rules for live marketing calls, some based on the type of call or industry, so it is important for organisations to be fully informed before proceeding with live marketing calls.