01 May 1997

FOLLOWING a meeting between the Data Protection Registrar and Southern Electric, 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 companies’ 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 considering legal action on similar grounds against Thames Water and a number of regional electricity companies including Norweb, Midlands and London.