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Can free competitions force you to 'opt in' to their marketing

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Can free-to-enter competitions (the kind of you see in newspapers and on product packaging) force participants to allow their details to be used for marketing purposes?

 

ISTR about 5 years ago some picky new laws coming in declaring promotions companies should give participants the option to 'opt in' to marketing, rather than force them to tick a box in order to 'opt out'.

 

I ask because I was about to enter Snappy Snaps' new competition on their homepage (Snappy Snaps Home Page) where you answer a question and give your details, but it will only let you submit and enter if you agree to your details being given to third parties. There isn't even a choice to opt out!

 

Are they officially allowed to do this?


"Be reasonable, demand the impossible"

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This is all I can find:

 

The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations were implemented in the UK on

11 December 2003. These Regulations state that the use of email addresses and/or

mobile numbers for direct marketing may only be allowed in respect of recipients who

have given their prior consent (i.e. opted-in to receiving such communications). An

exception is allowed (i.e. an opt-out box can still be provided) where the details are

collected in the course of a sale or a negotiation for the sale of a product or a service.

Where a company wants to pass email addresses and/or mobile numbers to third party

companies then the recipient must give their prior consent (i.e. opt-in) to such transfer.

The opt-in must be worded in such a way as to either specifically name the third party

that will receive the email addresses/mobile numbers OR state that other companies will

receive the contact details so that those companies can send the recipient information

about named products or services (i.e. you must state the types of products/services the

recipient can expect to receive from the other companies).

 

I haven't read the full regulation shown in the quote.

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I think you're right but you'll get a definitive answer from the ICO http://www.ico.gov.uk/


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A simple way to opt out is not to enter the competition.


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Yes they can. I made a formal complaint where a 'competition' by a bank provided a cash value of £20 to all that entered, BUT you could not opt out of your details being passed to third parties. The ICO responded that after investigation the cost of the 'prize' was funded by the firms willing to pay for the information provided, so with no data, there was no prize.

 

It appeared (from the ICO's response - that because it was clear that your data WOULD be used and was an inherent part of the promotion, it was acceptable, because the use was publicised. IF there is to be a choice with data disclosure, it should be an opt in, with the consumer being asked to select to make their data available (rather than an opt out). HOWEVER, if there is no choice in the matter (as in the case I described) there is no option available, and that makes it OK. :(

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Thanks for the info guys.

 

Have written to the ICO but I think you've got the answer Buzby.

 

I also wrote to the Gambling Comission too, who regulate competitions, but they said "Prize competitions and free draws are free of statutory regulatory control under the Gambling Act 2005 (the Act). Such competitions and draws can therefore be organised commercially for private benefit and profit."

 


"Be reasonable, demand the impossible"

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If you enter a competion then you agree to their terms and conditions. As gyzmo states, if you don't like the Ts&Cs then don't enter.

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