PRCA & LGcomms raise public sector concerns in ICO Consultation on Direct Marketing

The PRCA and LGcomms have issued a joint response to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) consultation on the Direct Marketing Code.
The industry bodies have raised concerns regarding the ICO’s plans to classify all communication from public sector bodies as commercial and promotional. Examples of public sector communication that would be considered promotional include messages from GP surgeries regarding the availability of flu vaccinations for residents.  
The new guidance would impose an unnecessary burden on public sector professionals who work in departments that are overstretched and under-resourced. The PRCA and LGcomms believe public sector professionals – all of whom are GDPR AND PECR compliant – perform a vital public duty by informing members of the public about relevant services in their council and sharing important updates regarding public health and safety.  
LGcomms Chair, Simon Jones MPRCA commented:
“When it comes to public bodies it is important that the ICO make the distinction between direct marketing and communication that is for the public good. A one-size for all approach to this could significantly hamper the ability of public bodies to provide critical information direct to individuals about things like flu vaccinations, bin collection day changes and applications for school admissions.”
PRCA Director-General and LGcomms Executive Director Francis Ingham MPRCA said:
“The unintended consequence of this ill-conceived ICO intervention will be to impede the delivery of public services. Its flaws could not be more apparent than during this period of coronavirus anxiety, and we would urge ICO to reverse course, and allow public sector communications professionals to do their jobs.”

Read the full consultation response here.

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