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Unsolicited Communicatoins

Volume 406: debated on Monday 9 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many complaints have been received by the Information Commissioner's Office concerning unsolicited (a) e-mail, (b) text messages and (c) phone calls; what measures are being taken to deal with Spam communications; and if she will make a statement. [115537]

The most recent figures available for complaints to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) under the Telecommunications (Data Protection and Privacy) Regulations 1999 cover the period April 2002 to February 2003. During this time the ICO received 1,339 complaints concerning direct marketing faxes and 210 complaints concerning direct marketing by telephone including SMS text messages to mobiles. A separate figure for the latter is not available. Updated figures will be available in the ICO's Annual Report to Parliament which is expected to be presented later this month.

Email marketing is not covered by the current Regulations (though the Data Protection Act 1998 applies where a recipient's e-mail address includes personal data such as firstname.lastname@isp.com). The ICO does not record such complaints separately.

Regulations to implement the Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications will introduce new rules on unsolicited commercial e-mail and SMS messages, and these Regulations are currently open for public consultation closing on 19 June 2003. The consultation paper is available in the House of Commons Library, or on the DTI website at the following URL: http://www.dti.gov.uk/industries/ecommunications/directive_on_privacy_electronic_communications_200258ec.html