Italy makes first step toward implementation of Robinson Lists

A new bill concerning the regulation of direct marketing was submitted to the Italian Deputies’ Chamber on May, 27 2009.

The current regulation on the relevant matter, which is provided within the Data Protection Code (D. lgs. 196/2003), is based on the “opt-in” principle, according to which it is forbidden to carry out any direct marketing initiatives without the prior explicit user’s consent.

Such rigid “opt–in” system causes huge problems either to users and to undertakings: users continue to receive unsolicited marketing communications, while businesses are stuck as they have difficulties in proving that consent has been given lawfully.

The new bill, according to EC Directives 95/46 and 2002/58, which left to Member States the freedom to choose either the “opt–in” or the “opt–out” systems, amends the Data Protection Code and provides for an “opt–out” principle based on the existence of a public list.

Based on the above, data subjects who are unwilling to receive direct marketing phone calls will be able to file their name in a public register to be created by the Data Protection Authority. Direct marketing operators will check the register on a monthly basis and delete from their directories the details of the person filed within. Every user shall have the right to have their names included in this public register, by telematic means too.

The enrolment in the public list will last for 2 years. After this period, if users do not renew enrolment, direct marketing operators will be entitled to use their details for direct marketing calls.

According to the bill, each direct marketing operator will use an identifiable telephone line and inform users about the existence of the Robinson List and the relevant subscription modalities.

Sanctions for breach of the above provisions are fines ranging from € 6,000 up to 36,000.

This Bill of law is an important step to move forward to a more flexible and thus more effective Data Protection regulation in Italy.

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