New anti-spam legislation in NL and Austria
On the 31st of October, the European Directive on Privacy in electronic
communications (2002/58/EC) went into force. Only a minority of countries
has implemented the directive in time, but any European citizen can now
directly appeal to the directive in their national courts.
Most recently, the Dutch Lower House accepted the spam-ban on 4 November,
voting unanimously for the new Telecommunication Law. Attempts from a
social-democrat member of parliament to introduce penal sanctions for
spamming and to extend the spam-ban to recipients on the workfloor failed,
in spite of much anti-spam rhetoric from the governing liberal and
christian-democrat parties. The House did accept an amendment that
requires proof of consent from the senders of unsolicited communication,
making it more difficult for the direct marketing industry to rent-out
address-lists and play ‘tell-a-friend’ tricks.
In Austria the Directive was implemented in time. The anti-spam regulation
went into force in August. Like the Dutch, the Austrian government refused
to extend the spam-ban to all natural persons, including e-mail addresses
used at work.
Unlike the Dutch though, Austria already had opt-in protection for all
recipients under the old telecommunication law. Anti-spam legislation
already deteriorated when the E-Commerce directive was implemented,
forcing the Austrians to suddenly create an opt-out list. Since the
implementation of the new Privacy directive some enforcement agencies
state that even that opt-out list no longer applies to non-consumers since
the new telecom law explicitly _allows_ them to be spammed, as long as an
opt-out-possibility is mentioned in the spam-message.
According to the Directive (Article 13) all natural persons have to be
protected via opt-in, leaving it up to member states to extend the
protection to business addresses. In reality, it is very difficult to
distinguish between different addresses. On top of that, many free-lancers
and -in some countries- small businesses are not legal persons and should
be protected via opt-in according to the Directive.
European Commission: New privacy rules for digital networks and services
New anti-spam regulation in Austria (in English)
(Thanks to Albert Koellner, Vibe!AT)