The European Commission (EC) has reassured businesses involved in direct marketing over proposals relating to data protection, reports thirdsector.co.uk.

A spokeswoman from the European body claims that fears are unfounded over how impending reforms would affect firms’ ability to contact certain people by mail. She stressed that explicit consent would not always be required – and noted that this is just one of a number of criteria that is used to judge if a company is allowed to contact consumers.

There are plans to alter the data protection rules, but the EC representative stressed that firms with “legitimate reasons” for getting in touch could still be allowed to do so under the new terms.

She said: “The commission has not proposed to change this in its data protection reform proposals. Explicit consent is not mandatory for direct marketing under data protection directive 95/46/EC – consent is irrelevant in such cases. It will continue to be relevant.”

The issue had come to the fore after the chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising, Peter Lewis, had expressed concern that charities may need to ask for consent to contact people who already donate to their cause.

Direct mail often forms an important part of charity campaigns, according to Charity Finance Group special advisor Pesh Framjee on guardian.co.uk. The fundraising expert suggested that cost ratios are particularly hard to calculate in this sector, as letters or calls could provoke action much later down the line – in a different financial year.

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