The ICO says public sector organisations can send ‘promotional’ messages which would not be classed as direct marketing, if they are necessary for a public task or function.
This is significant. ‘Promotional’ messages have always been considered as ‘direct marketing’ before, regardless of whether they are sent by commercial companies, not-for-profits or the public sector.
It also means, in the eyes of the Regulator, such public sector ‘promotional’ emails, SMS messages and telephone calls do not fall within the scope of the UK’s Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).
The ICO is now drawing a distinction between promotional messages necessary to fulfil a public task or function, as opposed to messages from public authorities promoting services which a user pays for (such as leisure facilities) or fundraising activities. The latter would still be considered direct marketing.
The following examples are given of the types of promotional content a public authority might communicate which would NOT constitute direct marketing;
- new public services
- online portals
- guidance resources
The ICO says promotional messages likely to be classed as direct marketing include:
- fundraising; or
- advertising services offered on a quasi-commercial basis or for which there is a charge (unless these are service messages as part of the service to the individual)
Read more in this blog by Philippa Donn.