Direct Marketers have now a better understanding about the rules
governing their promotional strategies performed on 'new
media' and targeted to users of social networks or of messaging
On July 4th, the Italian Privacy Commissioner
("Autorità Garante per la protezione dei dati
personali") has released its updated guidelines containing the
criteria and requirements the direct marketing industry will have
to consider from now on.
Businesses active in this sector will have to follow some
'golden rules' when drafting and performing their marketing
Opt-in requirement: commercial offers and
promotional material of any kind may be delivered via automated
systems (such as: pre-recorded phone messages, e-mail, fax, sms,
mms) exclusively on targeted subject's informed, specific and
freely expressed consent (where such consent on request has to be
substantiated by written documents),
Control obligations: companies adopting such
direct marketing strategies and relying on third parties for
organizing and handling promotional campaigns, are called to
exercise proper control in order to avoid that incorrect conduct is
performed by such third parties in charge of contacting potential
Social Networks and Messaging Services:
specific in-advance consent is also required for automated delivery
or 'viral' and 'targeted' marketing directed to
users of social networks as well as of messaging services. The fact
that users' data may be available and accessible on such
platforms (e. g. on a Facebook wall, or chat rooms) does not exempt
from seeking such consent.
Word of Mouth: Consent is not required for
informing friends via e-mail or sms about commercial offers.
Promotional e-mails to existing clients: such
commercial communication (so-called 'soft spam') is allowed
without further requirements, provided it relates to products or
services identical to those object of a previous commercial
Promotional initiatives towards brand
'fans': commercial offers to 'followers'
on social networks may be freely delivered as long as from their
registration to a company page clearly emerges their interest in
– and consent to – receiving promotional messages about
a brand and its products or services.
No need to seek for 'multiple'
consent: once correctly achieved, consent covers both, all
forms of marketing (e. g. delivery of promotional material as well
as performance of market research or tests) as well as all kind of
possible uses (e. g. calls performed by phone operators,
distribution of hard copies of promotional material), even transfer
of personal data to third parties, provided that in-advance notice
offered to data subjects on purposes of collection specifically
indicates and contains the contact information of such third
Non-compliance: the Privacy Commissioner
reminders individuals affected by undue spam that they may access
the Authority at any time and solicit intervention ask for
sanctions to be applied on the spammer (in certain cases the
maximum amount of such sanctions may reach Euro 500.000).
Legal entities: even though not having a
standing in the proceedings before the Privacy Commissioner,
companies can flag spamming practices to the Authority's
attention (while in serious cases action before a Civil or Criminal
Court is always available).
(As per August 1st,
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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