HC Deb 06 March 2002 vol 381 cc352-3W
Mr. Allan

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what assessment she has made of the common position on Directive COM2000/0385, with particular reference to the compromise agreed on Article 13 regarding unsolicited e-mail marketing; [39458]

(2) if she will include an opt-in system for e-mail marketing in the Government's transposition of the E-commerce Directive. [39457]

Mr. Alexander

At the Telecoms Council on 6 December last year, member states and the Commission reached political agreement on the draft Communications Data Protection Directive, including the provisions on unsolicited commercial e-mail (UCE) in Article 13, where the issue has been whether UCE should be subject to opt-in rules, under which it could only be sent with the prior consent of the addressee, or member states should have discretion to apply opt-out rules, under which UCE can be sent unless the addressee has objected, either to e-mails from a particular sender or on a blanket basis by registering on a central opt-out list.

The Commission's original proposals produced a very divided response, and at the council, a compromise was agreed. Under this, the general principle would be opt-in, but with an opt-out exception for e-mail sent in the context of an existing customer relationship provided, among other things, that the sender has obtained the addressee's contact details in accordance with existing data protection rules. The UK supported this compromise wording at the council, and we believe it offers a sensible and workable regulatory approach. The draft Directive is now going through second reading procedures in the European Parliament.

The Government will shortly be publicly consulting on draft Regulations implementing the E-Commerce Directive.