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Brands told what counts as consent as DMA clarifies ICO’s ‘confusing’ guidance on marketing rules

Brands left unclear about how the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) interprets rules concerning obtaining consumer consent for marketing have been issued with new guidelines by the DMA. 

The DMA has issued the guidelines following six months of discussions with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) - which enforces the Data Protection Act (DPA) and Privacy & Electronic Communication Regulations (PECR) - to clarify how the regulator defines one-to-one marketing and interprets rules relating to consumer consent in differing circumstances. 

In September 2013, the ICO published its Guidance on Direct Marketing to clear up industry confusion about how it will interpret the key areas of the DPA and PECR covering the collection and use of consumer data. However, the Guidance had left many brands none-the-clearer, and even concerned, about its potential to curb commonplace practices. 

The DMA has published its own guidelines on the ICO Guidance after consulting with the regulator to clarify the 10 areas that were of most concern. The DMA’s guidelines includes explanations on how the ICO now interprets the rules regarding the time limits on consent, third-party consent and revalidating consent when there are changes within a business. 

Commenting on the guidelines, the DMA’s director of external affairs Mike Lordan said:

“Many companies have found the rules confusing, in spite of the ICO’s Guidance. Our guidelines are essential for any brand marketers to understand how the ICO interprets and enforces the laws governing how they collect and use consumer data for one-to-one marketing. 

“Above all, it shows that being transparent and always putting the interests of the consumer first is the basis of building trust and encouraging them to share their information.”

The ICO, which has the powers to fine companies up to £500,000 for breaking the law, plans to review its Guidance on Direct Marketing in the autumn and will decide then if it will make any revisions. The DMA will host a series of practical workshops for marketers on the ICO’s Guidance.   

The DMA’s guidelines on the ICO’s Guidance can be downloaded from:

For further information contact the DMA Press Office


Ed Owen, Head of PR
Tel. 020 7291 3324

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