Looking for a bluffer’s guide to the current state of play on EU controls over ‘unsolicited commercial e-mail’? Look no further-an at a glance up to date table is here.
"The Distance Selling Directive"
|31 October 2000 The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations||UK could have introduced statutory opt-in or opt-out, but chose neither, so present position is self regulatory "opt-out" under the DMA's "e-Mail Preference Service, with legal back stop via the 1998 Data Protection Act. The Act's effect is that if an individual has registered with the e-MPS or notified a company that it does not wish to receive further unsolicited marketing e-mails, for these to continue will be "unfair" processing of personal data and a criminal offence.|
"The E-Commerce Directive"
Due by 16 January 2002
DTI consultation document just published
|Five changes: (1) all e-mail must give the name, geographic (as opposed to internet) address, e-mail address of sender plus details of any "supervisory authority" to which they belong so that recipients can readily take action to avoid receiving such communications in the future (2) all marketing e-mails, solicited and unsolicited, must be identifiable as such and identify the person on whose behalf it was sent (3) all unsolicited marketing e-mails must be clearly identifiable as such as soon as they are received so that they can be deleted without having to read them (4) all EU states to ensure that senders of unsolicited marketing e-mail consult regularly and respect opt-out registers|
"The [draft] Communications Data Protection Directive"
|Late 2002? Further debate in Committee later in 2001|
Current proposal is to harmonise the current mixture of opt-in/opt-out regimes across the EU. The $64,000 question is, is whether it will be EU-wide opt-in or opt-out.
The UK Government's position is pro opt-out. It believes blanket opt-in would be a "disproportionate response to the perceived
problems of unsolicited commercial communications." There were signs of a possible compromise by way of EU-wide opt-out for UCEM in return for explicit prior consent for cookies, but will the (at least) 5 EU states who have already introduced a statutory UCEM opt-in regime really be prepared to relax to opt-out so quickly afterwards? The latest news is that in early September 2001 the European Parliament initially seemed minded to go for opt-in, voting 259 to 210 in favour. Other amendments voted through created confusion, however, so the Euro MPs elected to pass the whole question back to the Committee on Citizens’ Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs for further debate on a compromise.