Major brand owners have come out fighting against Brussels plans to make all electronic marketing – including email, texts and telemarketing – opt-in only, insisting it should remain up to individual countries to decide which model they follow.
The opt-in measures, being considered as part of the EU ePrivacy Directive reforms, were first mooted for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), but were eventually watered down.
As it stands, the ePrivacy Directive currently leaves it up to member states to decide whether an opt-in or opt-out model is appropriate for e-marketing. This position has the backing of the DMA, but Brussels chiefs are considering bringing the law in line with Germany, where, for instance, cold telemarketing is banned.
According to a summary of the consultation results, published by the European Commission, some 73% of businesses from across the EU agree with the DMA’s position, although almost 90% of the citizens, civil society organisations and public authorities who responded said they would favour an opt-in regime.
EU Regulations are mandatory for every member state; for Directives, each member state normally has the final say over whether they adopt the legislation. However, the waters are slightly muddied by the fact that, with the UK voting to leave the EU, it is not known whether British firms will have to follow the GDPR, let alone any future Directives, although most experts believe the UK will have to have similar legislation if it wants to trade in the EU.
In its response, the DMA said that much of the ePrivacy Directive was covered by the new General Data Protection Regulations and that many of the measures would simply add in an extra layer of unnecessary legislation.
“In the DMA’s view, the flexibility given by the ePrivacy Directive to member states to decide between opt-in and opt-out solutions for telemarketing has led to a regime that both the industry and individuals have become familiar with,” the DMA’s response said.
“While greater harmonisation is important, it should not lead to the restriction of marketing practices which are commonly accepted at national level and are sufficiently protective of the individual.”
The Commission has said it will publish a full report on the consultation, which attracted 421 responses, in the autumn.
Originally there had been fears that the UK would have no influence on the changes following the Brexit vote, however, with Prime Minister Theresa May in no rush to invoke Article 50, the UK will not be leaving the EU for at least two years. The consultation is due to be complete before the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force in May 2018.
The UK Information Commissioner’s Office has already said that the much-loathed “cookie law” – which has forced every website owner to gain consent for using browsing data – should be scrapped and replaced by new legislation as it has simply not worked in practice.
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