Headlines: August 11th, 1998

The Government has issued draft regulations designed to protect consumers from unwanted direct marketing ‘junk’ faxes and phone calls.

Barbara Roche, Minister for Small Firms, said:”We all know how annoying it can be to be disturbed at home by an unsolicited phone call from a company intent on selling you something. It’s even more frustrating for a small company to have its fax machine clogged by unwanted advertising – and paying for the fax paper used.”

The proposals will give consumers the power to refuse all unsolicited direct marketing calls, by registering with a centralised list of subscribers who don’t want to receive these calls.

The new rules were drawn up after consultation with industry and consumers, and there is now a two month period for anyone interested to comment.

The Government has warned that should this industry-run opt out scheme not provide effective protection to consumers, it reserves the right to reverse the system. This could include introducing an “opt in” approach, under which such calls would only be allowed to be made to consumers who had agreed to receive such calls.

The draft Telecoms Data Protection Regulations also require that all direct marketers include in their faxes (or in the course of calls made for marketing purposes) a freephone telephone number or their address. This would allow recipients of a fax or call to contact the company and ask to be removed from its lists.

The draft Regulations may be obtained from: http://www.dti.gov.uk/cii/tdpd/condoc2.htm
or from Maria Neczyporczuk, Fax 0171 215 4161.