Govt ‘open’ to changing PECR legislation if guidance proves ineffective

Minister for Media, Data and Digital Infrastructure, Julia Lopez, has said she is open to exploring whether changes to the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulation 2003 (PECR) are needed to address barriers to pension schemes communicating with members.

In response to a letter from Work and Pensions Committee chair, Stephen Timms, that highlighted concerns identified in the committee’s Saving for Later Life inquiry, Lopez noted that the Information Commissioner’s Office is engaging with The Pensions Regulator (TPR) to ensure organisations can communicate effectively with customers.

“Better regulatory guidance should provide the clarity that pension providers need, but if it does not have the desired effect, I would be open to exploring whether changes to the PECR legislation are needed to address unnecessary barriers to responsible data processing,” she stated.

Concerns had been raised by Aviva and the Universities Superannuation Scheme that the legislation was impacting their ability to communicate with members.

In particular, they said consent requirements in the PECR can make it difficult to contact policyholders who have been automatically enrolled in pension schemes by their employers and not directly consented to receiving electronic communications.

In her response, Lopez noted that while PECR does not prohibit pension companies from providing key customer service and administrative information to members, it does prevent the sending of electronic messages that constitute ‘direct marketing’.

“We have heard through our recent consultation exercise, Data: A New Direction, that consumers think the rules are generally in the right place,” she noted.

“Respondents said they wanted to have meaningful control over how their personal data is used and control over when they receive direct marketing communications.”

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