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Electronic marketing and internet use

Electronic marketing
Are there rules specifically governing unsolicited electronic marketing (spam)?

Yes, these are laid down in:

  • Articles 13 to 15 of the Act of March 11 2003 on Certain Legal Aspects of Information Society Services;
  • the Decree-Law of April 4 2003 on the Regulation on the Transmission of Advertising by Electronical Mail; and
  • several recommendations of the Belgian Data Protection Authority:
    • Recommendation 34/2000 of November 22 2000;
    • Recommendation 4/2009 of October 14 2009; and
    • Recommendation 2/2013 of January 30 2013).

As a rule, marketing emails are permitted only if the recipient has previously given consent. The only exception to this opt-in requirement applies to emails sent by a company to its existing customers in relation to products or services that are identical or similar to the products or services already purchased by the customers. In such case, the recipient must be able to opt out (ie, ask the sender to stop sending marketing emails).

Cookies
Are there rules governing the use of cookies?

Article 129 of the Electronic Communication Act deals with the use of cookies. The user must be informed of the exact purpose of the processing and of his or her rights. The user must also actively accept the use of cookies (and must be given the possibility to withdraw this acceptance at any time).

Further, in 2015 the Belgian Data Protection Authority issued a recommendation on the use of cookies (Recommendation 1/2015 of February 4 2015).

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