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Electronic marketing and internet use
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).
The European Union also hopes to have enacted the new e-Privacy Regulation, which will govern electronic marketing and will directly apply in all EU member states, by the time that the GDPR enters into force on May 25 2018.
On September 8 2017 the Council of the European Union published its proposed revisions to the draft e-Privacy Regulation, which was first published by the European Commission in January 2016. The revisions have been made based on written comments and discussions involving the Working Party for Telecommunications and Information Society.
As the road to adoption of the proposal is expected to be long, the foreseen date of enactment of May 25 2018 seems quite unrealistic.
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