The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) is likely to begin work within weeks on new marketing and data guidelines that will directly impact most areas of digital marketing. Government legislation that instructs the regulator to produce a new code, will reach completion in this session of Parliament.

The Digital Economy Bill, which is a Government sponsored act and was a feature of The Queen’s Speech, has received its third and final reading in the House of Lords. With only final joint amendments by the Commons and Lords to go the act requires Royal Assent before becoming law. Although royal approval is sometimes delayed for months and even years, it is likely the bill will become law before the summer recess.

As a result, the future of direct and digital marketing and use of consumer data is likely to be decided upon within the next 12 months. The ICO will submit its recommended new guidelines for consideration by ministers. A government representative has already said that whatever rules ministers choose to adopt will become statutory law with powers to take offenders to court.

There is strong evidence to suggest that politicians are seeking a tightening up of regulation from the review. However, within the new Bill, the ICO will be given clear instruction that it must consult industry representatives as part of the guideline review process. This presents an opportunity for organisations from the marketing and data communities to formally put ideas forward for adoption in the new regulation.

Dene Walsh, operations and compliance director at Verso Group, said: "What ministers decide upon following the ICO’s review is likely to be the basis for marketing and data practice for at least ten years. We need to take the opportunity to contribute to the outcome by putting forward robust recommendations that are clearly seen to safeguard the interests of the public as well as allowing all forms of data related marketing to operate freely.

"There are ways to do this in all areas of marketing and data, and it is important because rules that are seen to protect consumers are most likely to be adopted by the ICO and politicians. Simply putting our interests first will not work."

 

By Jonathan Davies, editor, Digital Marketing Magazine


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