Privacy and electronic communications

Regulations, introduced to bring the UK into line with the EU Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications, mean that businesses need to secure the advance permission of recipients before sending marketing e-mails and text messages.

Those businesses that fail to abide by the rules are committing a criminal offence and could face a fine.

The measures also cover the use of internet tracking devices, known as 'cookies', which are placed onto personal computers by websites. Businesses must have the agreement of the user before using cookies.

While the aim of the regulations is to help to cut down on unwanted e-mails and text messages, SMEs may find themselves at a disadvantage, as many do not have access to the advertising methods used by larger companies, and rely largely on telephone and e-mail marketing.