Website Legal Requirements – Data Commissioner Fines for Unsolicited E-mails

As a result of an amendment to the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR), from the 25th of May 2011 the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) will have the power to impose fines of up to £500,000 on companies, if they send unwanted marketing e-mails or text messages to consumers.

E-mail Marketing – Legal Requirements

Currently solicited or unsolicited e-mail (or text messaging) marketing must state:

  • that the e-mail or text message is a commercial communication;
  • the name of the company/or person on whose behalf the communication is being sent; and
  • if appropriate, that the communication is a promotional offer (including any discount, premium or gift) or promotional competition or game

In addition, under the PECR consent must usually be obtained before unsolicited commercial communications (spam) are sent to individuals.

When will Fines be Imposed?

The Information Commissioner has stated that fines will only be imposed for serious breaches of the PECR and plans to publish guidance on this shortly.

How to Avoid Fines

Companies should ensure before sending any marketing emails or text messages that individuals have consented to receiving such communications unless any of the exceptions set out in the PECR applies. Additionally, if consent is withdrawn or refused no commercial communications should be sent.


Irene Bodle is an IT lawyer specialising in Internet Law and SaaS Agreements with over 10 years experience in the IT sector. If you require assistance with any Internet Law, SaaS, ASP, software on demand contracts or any other IT legal issues contact me:

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