Privacy Advisor

ITALY—Italian DPA Releases Rules on Spam and Viral Marketing

August 1, 2013

By Rocco Panetta

The Italian Data Protection Authority (Garante) has released, earlier this month, a set of rules dealing with spam and viral marketing. The provision, named “Guidelines on Marketing Activities and Spam,” is intended to fight the abuses of marketing communications and to promote fair commercial practices towards users and consumers.

The general provision defines a framework of measures useful for each company that wants to advertise products and services, and also for users who want to defend themselves from those who may use personal information unlawfully.

The Garante has pointed out the importance of users consent in the field of marketing and advertising, focusing its attention also on the so-called social spam—for instance, messages to users of Facebook, Twitter and other social networks or other messaging and VoIP services, including WhatsApp, Viber, Messenger, etc. The circumstance that data is accessible on the web does not mean that they can be freely used to send promotional communications or other automated activities of viral or target marketing.

People receiving spam can submit reports, complaints or appeals to the Garante in order to exercise all rights provided for by the Legislative Decree n. 196/2003 (Personal Data Protection Code), including the request for sanctions against those who will send unsolicited messages.

For more information on the provision, visit this link.

Rocco Panetta is an Italian lawyer and partner of Panetta & Associati Studio Legale in Rome. He is the former head of legal at the Italian Data Protection Authority and a member of the IAPP Europe Advisory Board.