The Government has warned direct marketing companies that it will
outlaw unsolicited telephone calls and junk faxes unless the industry
puts its house in order.
The Department of Trade and Industry has decided to give consumers a
legal right to ’opt out’ of receiving unsolicited phone calls using a
The proposals will enshrine in law the industry’s current
self-regulatory system. Companies will be able to refuse unsolicited
faxes and direct marketing companies will be banned from sending them to
However, ministers have served notice that if the voluntary system does
not work, they will legislate to ensure a watertight system.
Barbara Roche, the Trade and Industry minister, said: ’Should this
industry-run, opt-out scheme not provide effective protection for
consumers, the Government reserves the right to amend the regulations
and strengthen the provisions preventing unsolicited direct marketing
faxes or calls.’
The minister added that government action could include an ’opt-out
approach’ under which telephone sales calls could be made only to people
who had expressly agreed to receive them.
Under the existing proposals, which implement a European Union
directive, direct marketing companies will have to include a freephone
number or address on all faxes sent, to allow consumers to contact them
if they want to be removed from the list.
’We all know how annoying it can be to be disturbed at home by an
unsolicited phone call from a company intent on selling you something,’
’It’s even more frustrating for a small company to have its fax machine
clogged by unwanted advertising - and having to pay for the fax paper