Tracking and UK/EU Law

A potential new client, a government agency, has brought up the following paragraph from the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003

Email tracking
We put clear gifs in our marketing emails. They help us work out how successful our campaign has been. Is that activity caught by the Regulations?

Yes, it is. You should read the page on Confidentiality of communications for more information about the rules on using clear gifs (also referred to as web beacons or web bugs) and similar so-called ‘spy ware’.

The important point to note is that if you are using such a tracking device in your marketing emails, you must let the recipient know about it in the message itself and explain to them how to switch the web beacon or clear gif off. You could provide this information next to your valid address for opt-out requests and include a link to a webpage which offers a fuller explanation. A link to your cookie and privacy policy alone is unlikely to be sufficient unless the section of that policy which relates to the use of web beacons or clear gifs is clearly signposted when you arrive at that page.

Govt Website

This would seem to make CM's tracking (and that of all other email systems) illegal in the UK unless the tracking is explained in the communication, and a facility to opt out is given. Do you have any guidance on this I could show to my client? Is there a facility in CM to switch tracking off completely on an account?



Mathew Mathew, 5 years ago

Thanks for posting that, it has not been raised before with us. We don't have a way of turning it off right now (except of course by sending plain text), but I will make sure we investigate it to see what the situation is.

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Garve, 5 years ago

Having contacted the Information Commissioner's Office here in the UK, it sounds like as long as we inform recipients about the tracking we're within the regulations.

For picky clients we're going to add something like this to the top of campaigns:

"Privacy: Viewing images or clicking links in HTML emails can make your actions trackable - we promise not to do anything evil with this info if you do!"

Mathew Mathew, 5 years ago

Great information Garve, thanks for passing that one.

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Richard.Wendon Richard.Wendon, 5 years ago

Great investigation Garve.

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