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Know local country data protection laws

Changes are a coming…

You don’t have to be a marketing expert anymore to put an ezine together or blast your prospects with an e-marketing campaign or a cool survey.  They are all great ways to engage with your customers and Web 2.0 has given us fantastic, easy to use tools.  However, there is a downside to having access to this functionality at the click of our fingertips: Mail Overload.  We all get them – newsletters with nothing to say (or, too much to say), service offerings that have no relevance to our businesses, no personalisation, or the one that for me guarantees a send to blocked emails, “Dear Coleman”.  The sender hasn’t bothered to check my name: so much for customer care.  That’s why I say you don’t have to be a marketing expert…  Need I say more!

Outbound – email marketing

Unfortunately, the down-side is that our email is rapidly becoming our most protected piece of personal data.  We tweet intimate (and inane) details of our personal lives, we post personal and family pictures on Facebook, we upload embarrassing videos on YouTube, all for the world to see.  But, we hold control of our emails sacrosanct: we are becoming ever more intolerant of interruption based or outbound marketing.

This desire to be in control and decide with whom we wish to correspond is driving inbound and permission based marketing.  Equally, it is driving ever more stringent data-protection rules.  Warning: DON’T FALL FOUL OF DATA PROTECTION LEGISATION

Outbound – tele and direct marketing

And it’s not just email marketing: regulation also applies to direct marketing and telemarketing.  New EU regulation is coming into place the end of this year.  You need to ensure you are familiar with the local legislation in each of the countries you operate.

From October 2009, an amendment to the Dutch Telecommunications Act has come into force establishing new rules for business to business email marketing. Primarily, prior consent must be obtained from the receiver if his/her email address is to be used for future commercial purposes.  If you have an existing newsletter with Dutch email addresses you MUST obtain their consent before sending another newsletter.  You may send an email under separate cover instructing them to “opt in” to continuing to receive your newsletter by replying to that email. Without a confirmation to that email, you are prohibited by law to email that person again.  You have until the end of December to ge that consent.  There are nuances to the legislation and of course, where an established relationship exists as a result of the sale of goods and services permission is deemed to exist.

Opt in email marketing legislation

Opt in email marketing legislation

The amended to the Dutch Telecommunications Act is extreme but likely to set the standard for the future.

In addition to B2B email marketing, there are new and severe restrictions on outbound telemarketing activity. 

All telemarketers MUST offer a do not call to prospects and register that number, as part of the call script.


Fines and penalties


In the case of the Netherlands, OPTA (  is the supervisory authority. The can impose stiff  fines up to € 450.000 in the case of telemarketing offences, or can go as far as temporarily closing down an organisation involved in outbound  telemarketing 

UK email rules are currently based on 2003 legislation.  It is similar but not as restrictive as the Netherlands.  Permission is required for “cold” emailing. You can continue to email exiting clients, without requesting permission, as long as the products and services you are offering are similar.  If you are offering something new, then you need permission:



This ever more restrictive legislation requires us to be more active and creative with our inbound, permission based marketing.  Websites must radically change from static brochureware to engaging information gateways that help build your brand and draw your prospects back.

What are your thoughts?  Will this make our task more difficult or will it make us more creative.  I’d love to hear your comments.

I am an International Strategy and Marketing Consultant with over 20 years experience in marketing and strategy and international operations both in the US and Europe. Broad functional experience in: Marketing and Communications Strategic and Financial analytics including Business Case Development Consulting and Operational management Client Relationship Management Deep financial services sector knowledge. Worked in organisations ranging from technology start-ups, fast-paced direct marketing agency to large corporates. Member of Enterprise Ireland Mentor Panel Member of IIA (Irish Internet Association) International Strategy Working Group Committee member of the MBA Association of Ireland:

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  • Good, practical post Donagh. Thanks for sharing. I haven’t done any research but it’d great to know if these apps are only for the iphone, Android or compatible with any specific brand.

  • Anonymous

    Great post… Here’s a link to an excellent email marketing resource site – this section is specifically about legislation around the world

  • Anonymous

    Many thanks for this Denise. Newsweaver, of course, are a leader in the field of enewsletters and emarketing, working with clients across Europe. They are an excellent resource for anybody getting started.

  • Great post Una. I must say that I see some inconsistencies between laws and usefulness to the consumer. Here in France there is a strict law about registering any list of people or companies you may have here in France… and yet I get emails from companies I have never heard of which have no easy unsubscribe option. Most of these companies somehow believe they are within the law, but my only choice of stopping the emails is to take the high road and go through the long process of complaining to the company who has the power to fine them.

    It’s going to be interesting to follow the application of all of these new laws. I’m happy I approach email marketing from a content marketing perspective with lots of value upfront and always use the double opt in system.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Cindy for your comment. How about we organise a bloggertone webinar on the impact of data protection regulation on outbound marketing, including Denise.

  • There is legitimate public concern about how business is using personal data. I support that concern. I feel it too. There have been horrific examples recently with staff from a mobile phone company selling such info to other businesses.

    You ask whether the coming restrictions will make us [meaning business] more creative. [] A more important question may be “will the concern lead companies to think harder about their operating ethics?

    The risk is that if the littering which the internet permits isn’t checked now we’ll suffer rubbish for years to come.

    Delighted you raised the issue in such an informative manner

  • Anonymous

    Once again, thanks for your comments Paul. I’m thinking of setting up a webinar to have a discussion on these issues.

  • Una, I have someone ready to facilitate tech side of this for you, let’s have a chat about it?

  • Anonymous

    OK Niall, I’ll call you during week and we can set up a webinar.

  • Hi Una, got your message and will come back asap, thanks, Niall

  • Anonymous

    No hurry Niall – I’m pretty busy anywya the first half of this week.

    Una Coleman



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