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One Third Of UK Businesses Unaware Of UK Spam Legislation

by Robin Pilgrim,, London

11 December 2003

According to a recent poll conducted by the Institute of Directors (IoD) in conjunction with direct e-mail service provider, Email Vision, more than a third (35%) of businesses in the UK are unaware of the implementation of the UK's new Privacy and Electronic Communications regulations, which came into force today.

The regulations require businesses to obtain prior consent before sending unsolicited commercial e-mails; require that internet users are given the opportunity to reject the use of cookies or other online tracking devices; allow network operators to provide subscription and advertising services based on location and traffic data to their customers provided that subscribers have given their consent; and increase the rights of UK citizens over whether they are listed in subscriber directories, and if so, what information can be made available.

According to recent guidance issued by the Office of the Information Commissioner, breaches of these regulations could result in a fine of £5,000, or an unlimited fine in the case of a jury trial.

However, the IoD was concerned to discover that in addition to the 35% of UK businesses unaware of the existence of the new regulations, some 29% of firms which use e-mail for marketing purposes are unsure of the implications of the new rules, and do not know what measures they should take to come into compliance with European and UK law in this area.

"The DTI has now spent many months finalising the regulations, but with one third of businesses unaware of the changes, perhaps more time should have been spent publicising the new legislation," Jonathon Cummings, director of e-business at the IoD observed, continuing:

"With many definitions still fairly loose, the implementation of this (EU) Directive could be confusing, especially for small businesses who don't have an in-house expert."

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