A German court held late last year that a travel company that purchased e-mail addresses from a data broker had violated German law. Of particular concern, the company had purchased the e-mail addresses with the intention of using those addresses for its own marketing purposes. The data broker represented that the people whose addresses were listed in the database had consented to receive marketing e-mail messages. However, without independently verifying that such consent had actually been given, the travel company went ahead and sent the individuals on the list marketing e-mail messages. According to the court, the company should have verified that the people on the list had provided consent before sending out the messages. Relying on the representations of the data broker was insufficient.

TIP: American companies seeking to engage in interactive marketing activities in foreign markets, such as sending electronic messages, should keep in mind that standards for obtaining (and verifying) consent can be higher outside of the U.S.