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Direct Marketing Commission - Enforcing Higher Industry Standards

Minutes – 15th September 2015

2nd October, 2015 at 09:56am

MINUTES

of the

DIRECT MARKETING COMMISSION

on

Tuesday 15th September 2015
at
DMA, 70 Margaret Street, London W1W 8SS

Present:

George Kidd, Chief Commissioner
Danny Meadows-Klue, Industry Commissioner
Dr Simon Davey, Independent Commissioner
Rosaleen Hubbard, Independent Commissioner

In Attendance:

Suzi Higman, Secretary, DMC
John Mitchison, Head of DMA Legal & Compliance

1.  WELCOME AND APOLOGIES

David Coupe had given apologies for absence.

2.  APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF 21st MAY 2015

The Commissioners had confirmed that the Minutes were an accurate account of their last meeting.  These had now been published on-line.

3.  MATTERS ARISING

At the last meeting GK reported that he and Mike Lordan had met with the Better Regulation Executive (BIS – Business Innovation Skills) and CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) to discuss the DMA Code and other alternatives to regulation. GK had produced a pyramid style chart which identified the nature of problems and behaviours (harm, risk, intent, purpose) as a hierarchy in terms of solutions.  GK agreed to re-examine the chart to see if it could be helpful to our process at the current time.

4.  GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE – update

GK updated Commissioners on issues discussed at a recent DMA Governance Committee meeting.

5.      COMMISSION APPOINTMENTS – update

DC and DM-K had now completed their tenures on the Commission.  They had both agreed to remain on the Commission Board until the New Year at which point two new Commissioners would be appointed. Two potential candidates had been identified and one had already ‘observed’ at a recent adjudication.  It was hoped that both candidates would be available from 1st January.  DM-K expressed his interest in supporting the Board in some capacity – it was agreed that this could be very helpful and that Danny might be called upon from time to time informally as a consultant or advisor to the Commission.

6.  FOLLOW UP TO CASES AND COMPLIANCE

• Letter to DMA – 22nd June
• Letter/report to DMA following data event – 16th July
• Compliance Task Force presentation
• GK correspondence with DMA

GK updated the Commissioners on recent correspondence with the DMA.  This followed two investigations in the Summer which had been referred to the DMC as the businesses concerned were the subject of a national newspaper article about the buying and selling of ‘sensitive’ financial data. The adjudications had raised a number of concerns relating to the value chain in terms of due diligence, consents and sourcing.  GK had fully reported the DMC’s concerns to the DMA and was looking for assurance that having identified the areas of concern, the DMA would take action to apply any necessary changes. JM updated Commissioners on the DMA’s Compliance Taskforce meetings which were looking at ways in which the compliance process could be strengthened and Commissioners discussed different ways in which this new process could progress.  GK was keen that the message that the DMC had raised, that members should take responsibility for the data they trade, was applied within the vetting process for new members.  GK asked if DMA membership terms could commit members to agreeing that the data gathered by the DMA compliance team during the vetting process could be shared with the DMC in the event of an investigation.

Discussions led to a more recent adjudication into a member which had not undertaken sufficient due diligence on its off-shore suppliers.  Similar issues around consent, sourcing and cleansing of data had been raised and the DMC had written to the DMA seeking their agreement to the principle that members should take responsibility for the data they trade. Recent adjudications suggested matters were out of control. The Commission sympathised with some industry comment over the need for different and robust rules regarding third party consent and when and how data can be shared. It was agreed that there was a need for a joint set of DMA and DMC messages regarding data providers  and their clear and direct responsibility for the conduct of their suppliers and that these messages should be actively promoted across DMA membership, on DMC and DMA websites and via a PR message with an accompanying interview/profile piece in a national newspaper.

ACTION GK to reach agreement with DMA on next steps based on the principle that members have responsibility for the conduct of their suppliers and sub-contractors.

7. CHARITIES – direct marketing

The Commissioners discussed a recent national newspaper article which identified a number of charities in DMA membership and issues around how they trade data in ways that might expose vulnerable consumers to numerous requests for charitable donations. It had been decided that a joint DMA and DMC letter should be sent to the charities in question seeking their assurance that they apply the DMA Code rules to their marketing and asking for a copy of a response that they submitted to the newspaper.  Commissioners were told that other investigations were underway by statutory regulators and other compliance organisations. On this basis it was not thought necessary or appropriate to proceed with a parallel DMC investigation at this time. All Commissioners agreed that the DMC should reserve the right to investigate at some later stage if this seemed appropriate.  It was agreed that this should be made clear in the letter to the charities.

8. COMPLAINTS UNDER THE DMA CODE

• Summary of complaints – July/August/Ongoing investigations
• Formal Investigations
• Adjudication

SH had circulated summaries of complaints for July and August, as well as a report on the status of open cases.  DM-K raised the issue of unaddressed mailings because complaints had been received against a member which was sending out mailings addressed to The Householder, thereby by-passing MPS which only registers personal data and also by-passing opt-out services which are for unaddressed mail only.  SH said the member should have suppression procedures in place to ensure that those who do not wish to receive these types of mailings, can opt-out.  DM-K believed that the DMC should take a collective view on this type of issue.

A formal investigation had been undertaken into a member which re-sold timeshares.  SH reported that this was a complex case and with a large amount of paperwork.  SH agreed to distribute papers in good time prior to the adjudication meeting set for early October.

SH also reported on a formal investigation into a member whose publisher/affiliate had sent out a number of unwanted emails to the complainant.  The emails were not clear as to the sender as they used domain names of other well-known companies, such as Ebay and Debenhams, provided a registered office address in the States but appeared to link to a DMA member.  The member runs an affiliate network and had not supplied adequate assurances or sufficient information as to the consents, process of data collection and responsibility or otherwise for their affiliates.  The adjudication would likely take place at the next DMC Board meeting.

9. CODE RULE OF DISREPUTE

RH had produced a short guidance note covering the agreed criteria for deciding whether or not a member was in breach of the disrepute clause in the DMA Code.  The note had been circulated to Commissioners for comment.  It was agreed that this rule should only be applied in exceptional circumstances where it was clear that there was ‘intent’ and where the behavior was abnormal to the industry.  SD asked that this decision on how to apply the rule was incorporated in our formal process.

ACTION SH to draft simplified note confirming the key tests the Secretariat should apply.

10. GENERAL MATTERS

JM updated Commissioners on the latest Governance, Preference Services & Compliance Report which had been circulated.

11. ANY OTHER BUSINESS

Annual Report:
The Annual Report was now due for the year of 1 July 2014 – 30 June 2015.   It was suggested that we publish a ‘risk register’ in the form of a table which identifies the recent issues/risks that have been established in recent months.  DM-K suggested we publish examples of ‘Data Journeys’ in the report, as well as a ‘referral’ chart which identifies which organisations are receiving non-member complaints.

SH circulated the Commissioners’ biographies and asked them to update and return for use in the Report.

ACTION SH AND GK to prepare draft Annual Report and seek Commissioners’ input and comment. The draft should be informed by and circulated with a basic list of risks and live issues.

12. FUTURE MEETINGS 2015

Tuesday 6th October, 9.30am – Adjudication
Tuesday 24th November, 10.30am DMC Board meeting