The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) (Amendment) Regulations 2011, which came into force on 26 May 2011, make certain changes to the laws that cover direct marketing by electronic means.
Serious breaches of the rules surrounding the sending of unwanted text messages, emails and marketing telephone calls can now lead to fines of up to £500,000.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has enhanced investigative powers that allow it to require telecoms and Internet service providers to cooperate with its investigations of breaches of the Regulations.
The ICO has issued guidance on the changes. The guidance states that organisations have 12 months to make sure they comply with the new rules regarding cookies. Although no fines will be issued until May 2012, the ICO anticipates receiving complaints about cookies in the interim period. In this event, it is expected to ask organisations to explain the steps they are taking to ensure that they will be in a position to comply with the Regulations by May 2012. Website owners who cannot demonstrate that they are taking the action necessary may be issued with a warning notice that will be taken into account by the ICO after expiry of the 12-month lead-in period.