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European Laws Tighten - March 2009

Dutch encourage opt-in

The Dutch law covering email/fax and SMS was changed in November and will be fully implemented in July. The explicit consent of business-to-business recipients will now be required for direct marketing sent through these channels.

German lists no longer exceptional

Following high profile data breaches in Germany, the Government (fuelled by privacy activists) is baying for direct marketers’ blood. A bill currently in consultation may soon abolish the “list exception” rule which has allowed data to be legally traded.  More serious yet, the proposed legislation will require express consent (opt-in) for disclosures to third parties.  The German direct marketing and mail order trade associations have banded together to fight the proposals and their lobbying may affect the final outcome, due in June. At the very least, they are hoping to negotiate a three year “list armistice” to allow data owners to change their practices. There is some uncertainty whether business-to-business data will be included – the current drafting may lead to some smaller businesses being covered.

A brace for Bluetooth in France

The French DP authority CNIL is pursuing a harsh line against Bluetooth marketing deciding it is “particularly intrusive”. The broadcasts - which incidentally are not covered by the equivalent PECR regulations in the UK – are sent to enabled devices with unique addresses (similar to an IP address). European direct and digital association FEDMA reports that this decision by CNIL relies on an extension of the definition of personal data to include the “MAC” address which may be challenged in the future.

Finding a safe harbour in landlocked Switzerland?

FEDMA also reports that fiercely independent, non EU and famously landlocked Switzerland has amended its tough data protection legislation. Following the EU’s footsteps it has now entered into the “US-Swiss Safe Harbour Framework” which will allow certified US companies to receive personal data from Switzerland.

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