Can we expect PECR to have real teeth soon?

Dec 19th '23

Regulations 2003 concerning Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) are known as PECR. These are the primary guidelines that impact direct marketing, specifically electronic and telemarketing. So, you must be aware of the regulations if you want to increase sales over the phone, by email, text, or automated contacting.


You must follow the guidelines set forth by the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) and the Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS) for business calls. The regulations specify when we can and cannot use the phone to communicate with potential consumers. It’s important for us to comprehend the workings of suppression lists and DNCs (Do Not Call) as well as the fact that some industries forbid cold calling altogether.


Similarly, we must recognize that permission is necessary if we want to reach out to potential customers via email or SMS. That is the enhanced consent standard that the GDPR introduced.


Information Commissioner’s Office  (ICO) explained 

It has always been risky to play by the rules because breaking them might result in official enforcement action from the ICO.  They start by thoroughly investigating the marketing activities you have been engaged in and the potential reasons for any violations of the regulations.


In essence, the ICO enforces the PECR and other direct marketing laws. As part of their investigation, they ask about a number of topics, including where you got your data, how many calls or messages you made, what contracts you had, what due diligence you had done, and so on. 


They also want to know about staff training and the policies and processes you implemented to adhere to PECR. When the ICO decides whether to fine the company and how much to fine it, failing to convince them that you have paid attention to such things is typically viewed as an aggravating factor. It also casts a negative light on the directors, who could possibly be fined personally for the violations.


  • What are the consequences for a breach?


The severity, scope, aggravating and mitigating circumstances, response to the investigation, and size of the company all play a significant role in determining the fines. The fact that the fine is only up to £500,000 and can be lowered by making early payments makes it less of a concern to many businesses.


That does, however, seriously harm the company’s reputation, which many are afraid about. The ICO distributes information about its enforcement actions and rulings on its website, which is subsequently disseminated via social media platforms like LinkedIn posts.


  • Laws are about to change

There’s going to be change. The Data Protection and Digital Information Act will result in a significant increase in fines. With a date to be determined, the new bill is presently passing through Parliament and has reached the Report Stage.


Data protection regulations are being significantly altered by the new law, which also renames the Information Commission instead of the ICO. The largest modification, though, will be to the possible sanctions available for violating PECR, which would now be worth a staggering £17,500,000! This complies with GDPR regulations and should not be ignored.


Although the exact date of the new law’s enactment is unknown, it will arrive soon.


  • Best course of action is to plan, plan, plan!

You definitely need think about where your outbound marketing fits inside the guidelines, especially PECR, if you are doing any. Do you engage in direct marketing? If so, you should seriously consider how compliant your company model is and whether you are operating within the bounds of the law. Is the data you are purchasing, for instance, truly TPS screened? Even if your supplier may have assured you that it is, have you investigated and taken any necessary precautions?


What kind of training have you given your employees? Would your sales team be able to describe the telemarketing regulations and why they think they are in compliance if the ICO came calling? Could they define “consent” as it relates to direct marketing?


Don’t get caught off guard—the new law is coming!


Related: Quick guide to PECR – and the reasons it’s critical for any direct marketing company


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