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Update to the DMA code of practice: ICO & cookie laws

The DMA UK released its latest iteration of the DMA code of practice.  The elements that relate to email marketing have been updated to include the new requirements defined by the new Data and Cookie laws.   These were introduced to stay in line with the EU privacy laws which were recently updated.

Brands now have to be more transparent with their collection of data; how they collect it, what they will do with it, and, specifically reference the use of cookies and other tracking technology on their site.

Users must now be able to consent to the use of cookies, or other similar tracking technology used for the operation of the service being expected by the user.

There are exceptions however, for example:

  • On a site that you can log into – ecommerce for instance – the site will need to set up a cookie as part of being able to use the site, ie: keeping your cart up to date. This is deemed to be a necessary cookie.

Examples of cookies that are not necessary are:

  • Most brands like to know who does what on their website and some allow third parties who advertise on their site to track usage across multiple sites to ensure they display the most appropriate ads. These cookies are not necessary for the service, and as such you would need to gain user permission to use them.

One new bit that is right at the end of the additions is the requirement to provide an online mechanism for opting out of data processing for direct marketing purposes – there is also a separate statement for third party opt-out.

The latest copy is available here.

The ICO have also published their advice on the new cookies regulations. You can get this here.

What it means for you

1.   Informing subscribers

To conform with the law as it stands you should clearly inform site visitors and subscribers of how you will use any data collected from them on your site.

Implement a clear statement explaining the personal data that is collected by using the site, how it is collected and by who and how it will be used.  You  an’t go far wrong by making sure that you have a privacy policy that covers all of the DMA requirements for data collection and usage on your site, linked from the footer.

2.    Get consent to the use of cookies and ‘similar tracking technology’

Enforcing non-consent of non-essential cookies is still posing a problem because browsers are not yet compliant with it – but they will be soon. So it will be down to the website owners to either stop using some arbitrary and third party-ad cookies or build their own consent box for users to accept on entry. The ICO’s advice on the new regulations is very helpful and they are not putting a lot of pressure on just yet, although it is rumoured that there will be an update to the policy in January 2012.

The ICO have already implemented this on their site ico.gov.uk.  When you visit it there will be a small section at the top asking you to tick a box and hit a button, very subtle, unintrusive but noticeable enough, functioning without interrupting and low tech too. Have a look for yourselves at the top of ico.gov.uk.

3.    Provide an opt-out mechanism for the processing of personal data for direct marketing purposes.

Essentially all you need to do is state that all marketing emails have a working unsubscribe link and then have an email address in there for people to use if they want to stop all or some emails.

We hope this helps, of course if you have any questions please just let us know.

Thanks to the DMA and ICO for the info in this article.

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