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Data Protection Commissioner stops rogue faxes

The Data Protection Commissioner has issued enforcement notices against two companies, 'Second Telecom Limited' and 'Top 20 Limited' who were sending unsolicited faxes in breach of new regulations.31 May 2000

Hundreds of complaints were received by the Commissioner, Elizabeth France, from people who received this unwanted marketing material. Ms. France said:

"These companies have shown a blatant disregard for the new rules. Many complainants have told us how irritated they have been by receipt of unsolicited marketing faxes. Some have told us that they have failed to receive important communications; others that they have been disturbed; many tell us of the cost in terms of paper and printer ink."

The enforcement notices require the companies to comply fully with the Regulations within 30 days - there is a right of appeal to the Data Protection Tribunal.

The Telecommunications (Data Protection and Privacy) Regulations 1999 came into force on 1 March 2000. They impose special rules for dealing with data in public telecommunications systems, faxes, telephones, and automated calling systems for unsolicited marketing.

Unsolicited marketing faxes must not be sent to individual subscribers without their prior consent.

Individual subscribers have a statutory right to opt-out of unsolicited telephone marketing either by telling the caller or by registering on a central stop list (telephone 0845 070 0707).

Corporate subscribers cannot opt-out of telephone sales but have the right to opt-out of unsolicited marketing faxes (telephone 0845 070 0702). Automated calling systems must have the prior consent of both corporate and individual subscribers.

The Commissioner concluded: "While it is too soon to name other companies, I am looking at a number of other possible enforcement actions."

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