A Europe-wide law on direct marketing via e-mail appeared less likely than ever, as the European Parliament this week failed to agree whether or not to allow unsolicited messages to be sent to potential customers by e-mail.
MEPs on the Committee on Citizens’ Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs voted to leave it up to the different member states to determine under their own legislation whether unsolicited e-mail for marketing purposes should be allowed on an opt-in or opt-out basis.
The direct marketing industry prefers the opt-out approach, which would allow marketers to send mass e-mailing – often called spam – without prior consent.
However the committee wants direct marketing by fax, SMS or automated calling systems to be allowed only with prior consent by subscribers. It is also recommending that subscribers have the right to request that their names be removed from printed electronic directories.
Parliamentarians also voted to prohibit cookies – files that automatically download into people’s computers from websites – unless they are designed purely to facilitate the technical workings of the website.
MEP Graham Watson says: “A political compromise was reached which leaves the decision on whether to apply an opt-in or opt-out approach up to the member states of the EU.”
The DMA welcomed the decision saying it would “provide small businesses with an even playing field”.