Telemarketing: the “new” Public Opposition Register makes easier to block it

Telephone marketing, for being highly privacy-intrusive for consumers, keeps being object of the Italian Data Protection Authority’s particular attention who included it in the new inspective plan of the first semester of 2018, approved in February.

The Controlling Authority is receiving an increasing number of warnings from data subjects complaining an unwanted processing of their data through telemarketing activities operated by call-centers and others operators.

Only a few weeks ago, the Italian Data Protection Authority issued an important measure against the telephony giant Vodafone at the end of an inquiry lasted 18 months, during which it was verified the sending of undesired commercial offers to clients, potential clients and former clients without an expressed valid consent for the processing of their data for direct marketing purposes (see Measure of the Italian Data Protection Authority no. 140 of March 8, 2018).

The Italian Data Protection Authority has prohibited the telephony company the data processing for marketing purposes without the consent of the data subject, or if the data subject revoked it or opposed to the processing, ordering the company to adopt the required technical and organizational measures to register the opposition to the processing and to prevent undesired commercial contacts.

An additional step forward against undesired telemarketing has recently been made with the adoption of Law 5/2018, entered into force on February 4, bearing new provisions on inscription and functioning of the  Public Opposition Register and positively accepted by the Italian Data Protection Authority.

All the telephone numbers, also mobile and landline non present in phonebooks, can be subscribed in the Register, which was originally created in 2010 with some lack and structural weakness, in order to opposed undesired calls aimed at sending advertisements or directs sales, conducting market researches and in any case for commercial communications.

A relevant piece of news introduced by the new law consist in the automatic revoke, at the same time of the inscription to the Register, of all consents to the processing of data previously provided, even accidentally or carelessly.

However, the consent given for specific contractual relations, still in force or ended more than 30 days before, is excluded. Thus, it seems that, for instance, possible promotional offers of additional services from the actual operator, or new pricing plans offered within 30 days from the cancellation of the contract are still licit.

In those cases, the data subjects can only exercise their rights according to article 7 Privacy Code, revoking their consent and opposing to any other processing for marketing purposes.

The call-center operators must make calls with precise and identifiable prefixes – one for commercial calls and one for marketing researches – and monthly verify the presence in the Register of the number they are about to call.

Even the sanctions provided by the Parliament are severe. In case of recurrence of the illicit, upon warning of the Italian Data Protection Authority, they can suspend or even revoke the activity of the undertaking.

Nevertheless, it will be necessary to wait the next months for the fully functioning of the reforms, after the issue of the implementing Regulation regulating the Register’s technical modalities of functioning.