Adrian Beney's FAQs | FAQs

Note that all of these FAQs date from before the implementation of the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EU) Directive. They shold not be relied upon in 2015 or later. But they do provide a bit of interesting historic detail, and some of them are still up to date.

Section: Data Protection

What do we do about the new Electronic Communication Regulations? Do we have to get people's permission to use their e-mail addresses?


My guess, and this is a guess, is that we are mostly OK on this.

I suspect that without exception we have people's e-mail addresses because they have given them to us. Why would someone give you an e-mail address if they are not expecting you to use it?

The legislation is an attempt (a hopeless one in my view) to stop the wall of spam to which many of us are subjected. Since most of it emanates from about 300 people, none of whom are in the EU this is unlikely to be successful. But anyway, it is designed to stop people buying large lists of e-mails and spamming them, or guessing at valid e-mails and spamming them.

None of our activities fit into these categories.

There's more information at at this URL which is a site the information commissioner is pointing to from their page on this issue at

Note that you must have fairly obtained the data in the first place.

In summary:

  • I don't believe most of us will need permission for most of what we do, and I think the e-mails sent by charities seeking your permission are either polite but unnecessary, probably enforced by an over zealous Data Protection Officer, or being sent because they obtained your e-mail address for a completely different reason, in which case they are quite correct to ask for your permssion.
  • It would be sensible (and good practice in any case) to give some opt-out mechanism with each e-mail.

NOTE: This is absolutely NOT legal advice; take your own professional advice if you need to. I can not take responsibility for any actions resulting from your decision making based on opinions expressed on this web page.

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