01 May 1997

FOLLOWING a meeting between the Data Protection Registrar and Southern Elec-tric, registrar Elizabeth France has relented over the serving of preliminary enforcement notices on regional electricity companies and British Gas. The dispute is over cross-marketing of the compa-nies’ own and third party products in customer mailings, including ads in customer magazines. The utilities have been given the go-ahead for a one-off mailshot offering customers the opportunity to ‘opt-in’ for future mailings. However, there is failure to agree over a recent 19 million mailing by British Gas which offered customers an ‘opt-out’ mechanism only - an unlawful option, contends the Registrar. The DPR is also con-sidering legal action on similar grounds against Thames Water and a number of regional electricity companies including Norweb, Midlands and London.