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EU Plans Legal Changes for Email Marketing

January 12, 2001 

The direct marketing industry is at loggerheads over news that the EU plans to introduce legislation to govern permission-based email marketing.

The new regulations would establish opt-in as standard.

The European Parliament was set to discuss revisions to the European Privacy and Telecommunications Directive as NMA went to press, which would extend the directive to cover electronic communications including email and possibly SMS.

If the proposal goes ahead, the directive, which already requires opt-in for automated direct marketing by fax and telephone, would also apply to email, raising the likelihood of new domestic legislation in EU member countries or changes to European direct marketing associations' policies.

President of the UK DMA Colin Lloyd said that the organisation was satisfied that current self regulation, in the form of the Distance Selling Directive and the DMA's own "email preferences service", was sufficient.

"We've been pre-emp ting this for the past two years," he said. "We're keen to get email marketing going without the need for heavy legislation. But if it doesn't work then I'd be the first one to call for legislation."

However, Martin Kiersnowski, COO of permission marketing company Emailbureau, reflected the views of a number of other agencies. He warned that the marketing situation in the US had already become too draconian due to the failure to introduce regulation early enough.

Kiersnowski (pictured) accused the DMA of dragging its feet on the issue and welcomed the possibi lity of changes to the directive.

"We've only got a narrow window of opportunity to get it right in this country and to ensure that email marketing isn't left open to abuse," he said. "Email marketing needs to be treated differently from traditional direct marketing."

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