The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003

The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003

The aim of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) is to ensure the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms, and in particular the right to privacy, with respect to the processing of personal data in the telecommunications sector. The PECR set down two rules for email marketing:

The first rule applies to all marketing messages sent by electronic mail, regardless of who the recipient is, and states that:

  • the sender must not conceal their identity, and
  • the sender must provide a valid address for opt-out requests.

The second rule, which only applies to unsolicited marketing messages sent by email to individual subscribers, states that

  • senders cannot send such messages unless they have the recipient’s prior consent.

This second rule is relaxed if the following exemption criteria are satisfied:

  • The recipient’s email address was collected in the course of a sale or negotiations for a sale;
  • The sender only sends promotional messages relating to their own similar products and services; and
  • When the address was collected, the recipient was given the opportunity to opt out which they didn’t take; and
  • The opportunity to opt out must be given with every subsequent message.