September 2013 saw the ICO (Information Commissioner's Office) published it's latest direct marketing guidance. Given that you can end up with a £500,000 fine for non compliance the ICO's interpretation of the law is important, so the fact it did little more than increase confusion wasn't very helpful and many felt that common place practices could be restricted.
What constitutes a "marketing message"? Do pre-ticked boxes count as permission?
So, DMA (The Direct Marketing Association) to the rescue! After 6 months consultation with the ICO the DMA has published a set a guidelines covering the 10 areas of most concern covering
* Does adding your logo to the bottom of a one-to-one email make it a marketing message? No (but it depends on the content).
* Can pre-ticked boxes signify consent? No, in most circumstances. A positive action is needed.
* Third Party consent? It's much easier to comply if you host the mailing. (Third Party consent accounts for 3 of 10 guidance points, so a key issue).
* How long does consent last? 6 months - but that mainly refers to unactivated third party consent. This means that if a consumer has been receiving emails or SMS and has not unsubscribed, it can be assumed that the consent is current.
It is brief (unusual for gudielines, but welcome) so read the detail here: http://dma.org.uk/article/dma-clarifies-ico-guidance-on-direct-marketing