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Berwin Leighton: Europe to Put A Stop to Marketing by Email


January 31, 2001

JAN 31, 2001, M2 Communications - Early next month, the European Commission is expected to announce whether it will push forward with a ban on 'spam' or unwanted commercial email. Many companies, particularly those fast growing entrepreneurial businesses in the SME sector, use spam as a cheap and instantaneous method to market themselves.

European ministers want companies to refrain from sending spam to an email address unless the owner of that address has specifically agreed in advance to receive communications like it (known as 'opting-in'). The current UK approach is one of 'opting-out'. For example, under data protection legislation, a customer must make a specific request that his or her personal data, which may include his email address, is not processed for the purposes of direct marketing. The new proposals from the Commission are the latest in a raft of recent European legislation affecting the use of commercial email.

Tonia Gilbert, a new media lawyer at City law firm Berwin Leighton, a sponsor of the Fast Track 100, the league table of the fastest growing unquoted companies in the UK, comments: "Yet again, in the name of consumer protection, the Commission has come up with proposals which potentially fetter the activities of the SME sector.

European ministers do not seem able to distinguish between responsible and targeted marketing and rogue spamming. As a result the entrepreneurial environment which the UK Government in particular is so keen to promote will be restricted."

© 2001, M2 Communication, www.email.about.com


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