Limited impact on marketers, but watch out for snooping employers!
The Regulation of InveBR> The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 ("RIP") with accompanying "Regulations on Lawful Business Practice regarding the Interception of Communications" ("RLBP"). Background: The Telecoms Data Protection Directive required EU states to protect the confidentiality of communications made by means of public telecommunications networks. The Human Rights Act will shortly be in force, requiring protection for individual privacy, subject to certain derogations such as national security and the prevention of crime. Following these and the perceived need to update UK interception and surveillance legislation generally, the UK Government has introduced this new legislation. RIP will have the force of law as of "October 2000" as will the accompanying RLBP. It was hoped that both would be in place before the Human Rights Act formally became part of UK law on 2 October 2000, but this may not be achieved following vociferous opposition from ISP’s and UK business generally about the surveillance and interception provisions.
What will change:
An unheralded part of RIP is the introduction of a new criminal offence of interception of a communication in the course of its transmission without a warrant or other lawful authority. The more controversial and publicised parts are those allowing Government authorities access to emails by way of an order imposed on ISP’s whenever, in the view of the authorities, occasion demands. Employers, too, are unhappy about a lack of dispensation for accessing employees’ emails while they are away, for instance, and the blanket provision making it a criminal offence to access staff emails without sender’s and recipient’s consent.
For the marketing industry, however, is there really anything to be over-concerned about as regards restrictions on marketing activity? The short answer is "not particularly" except to the extent that the RLBP could as it stands force employers to take the draconian step of forbidding all external emails if they are unable to monitor them for other than tightly defined purposes, a move which could seriously impede B2C and B2B marketing activity on-line.
There are also the implications of the RIP and RLBP for call centres who may routinely record telesales staff calls. The draft RLBP suggest that even without caller and "callee" consent, business communications may be monitored and recorded in order to ascertain compliance with practices and procedures or get evidence of a commercial transaction. So far so good for call centres, but they must also ensure that staff are able to make personal calls that are not intercepted or recorded in this way. Staff should also be informed that their personal calls may be recorded and given access to separate telephones on the premises where they can make and receive unrecorded private calls.
Following the expiry of the extended consultation period for the RLBP, RIP and the final regulations are likely to be in force in late October.
What happens next:
All those with strong views about any part of the RLBP should make themselves heard now.