Offshore is off-limits

Jonathan Bass, managing director of mobile marketing agency Incentivated, has warned mobile marketers to ensure they stay on the right side of the law when outsourcing the broadcasting of SMS campaigns. According to Bass, many companies are inadvertently breaking the law by transferring customer data outside the EU, in order to execute campaigns, something that breaches the 8th principle of the Data Protection Act.
“In this day and age, we all have to know what were doing, and if you let an IT department loose on a mobile marketing solution without reference to the legislation, they will get brands in trouble” he says. “There are some non-EU competitors in places like South Africa and India, who have a natural cost advantage because they are overseas. For clients, however, there is an implication with respect to the 8th Principle of the Data Protection Act, which says that you must not send data out of the EU, except to a small number of specific countries. So when companies send a mobile number and name or a mobile number and postcode to a company in South Africa or India, they are breaking the law, even if the marketing team is unaware of what the IT department is up to.”
Other SMS broadcast solutions, says Bass, are in breach of the PECA (Privacy and Electronic Communications) Regulations, because they broadcast the message, but do not permit the recipient to reply, possibly to unsubscribe.
“If youre using a cut-down, online, non-account managed, one-way marketing solution, you should ask for a response mechanism. If your provider wont provide it, stop using them” says Bass.
Theres more information on the Data Protection Act and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, on the Information Commissioners Office website.