Business to business marketers could be forced to adopt an opt-in only marketing regime, according to a leaked version of ePrivacy Directive proposals, triggering dire warnings of the death of B2B marketing.
The plans, leaked just before Christmas, would make all B2B marketing opt-in, a move which the DMA claims could have a significant impact for many in the sector who use marketing under “legitimate interest” to acquire new customers.
The irony of the threat will not be lost on many, who have always warned that Brussels was hell-bent on making all marketing opt-in as proposed in the original version of the EU General Data Protection Regulation.
This was eventually watered down but has now re-emerged in the review of the ePrivacy Directive, which Brussels insists will be completed before GDPR comes into force in May 2018.
In August, major brand owners came 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.
But, according to the leaked documents, this will now be extended to all B2B marketing.
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.
Commenting on the leaked document, DMA managing director Rachel Aldighieri said: “The proposed changes to the rules governing B2B contact are not something the business community or customers are calling for. We always advocate a customer-first approach to all marketing. If these proposals go ahead they will have a profound and negative effect on the UK economy. B2B represents a significant and important part of the economy and much of this relies on marketing through legitimate interest to contact potential new customers.
“The DMA will lobby firmly against these proposals and for UK businesses to retain their ability to market themselves to other businesses if this change remains in the final text released in the New Year. This is only the start of what could be a long process, but we will be ready to represent the interests of UK businesses and putting customers first every step of the way.”
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