Netherlands: New opt-in requirements for third-party email marketing

The Netherlands’ Independent Post and Telecommunications Authority (OPTA) has issued a decision according to which an opt-in consent for third-party commercial emails is only valid if the third parties are specified, as well as the type of data that will be provided to these third parties and the products these third parties offer. When emails are sent on behalf of such third parties, the name of the company that has obtained the opt-in consent on behalf of the third parties should be clearly mentioned, reports law firm De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek N.V in Amsterdam.

The decision affects how companies should design their privacy policies and registration forms as they often include an opt-in from consumers to also receive direct emails for products or services of affiliated third parties. A general opt-in for consenting to third parties’ marketing is thus insufficient.

The decision of 2 October imposed a €100,000 fine on Companeo S.A. for sending spam emails to consumers. OPTA decided that these third-party emails amounted to spam because they had been sent without the users' prior and specific consent. Even though the users had checked the box "I would like to receive offers from Companeo partners", they could not reasonably have expected that by doing so, they were consenting to receive unspecified third-party advertisements.