DUSSELDORF, Germany — The Federation of European Direct Marketing yesterday adopted a code of conduct on e-commerce based on various EU directives that touch upon direct marketing on the Web.
Twenty-five members of the 30-person board attended the meeting, the third this year that was held in conjunction with DIMA, the annual German direct marketing show that closed here last night.
Representatives of most of the national DMAs attended yesterday’s meeting and they are key to promoting the code on a national level, said Alastair Tempest, FEDMA's director general. He noted that five national DMAs have already adopted such codes: Finland, France, the UK, Switzerland and Spain.
“The code is a good instrument for our membership,” said Laurence Djolakian, who handles legal affairs at FEDMA. “It is flexible and simplifies the legal texts into language everybody can understand.”
The board meeting also discussed proposed revisions in the EU's telecommunication and privacy directives that demand opt-in permission before the sending of commercial e-mails.
“We are filing an appeal against these proposals,” Djolakian said, “because in effect this would ban unsolicited commercial communications by e-mail and that is unfair.”
It is also inconsistent, Djolakian explained, since the EU directive on e-commerce only demands an opt-out provision on sending commercial e-mails.
The European Parliament will discuss the proposed changes in the telecom directive this month and in October and then decide whether to approve or oppose them.
While parliament's decisions on such matters are not binding on the European Commission, they do have an impact on which way the EC will finally go. FEDMA will continue to lobby both the EC and parliament on this issue, she said.
The board also considered some of the legal and regulatory nitty-gritty that is arising from technology's outstripping regulators' ability to keep up.
“We looked at just how a self-regulatory environment will handle SMS marketing,” said Colin Lloyd, head of the British DMA. “People forget that SMS is being used to transmit commercial messages. Does that fall under e-commerce regulation or not? Or do SMS and WAP messages come under the telecom directive? A whole world of commercial messages is being sent on mobile devices as SMS or e-mail. Every new technological development is in effect a new media.”
Lloyd recalled a recent mobile phone scam the BBC uncovered and which regulators have not been able to consider because the technology is so new.
It is now possible, he said, to send mobile telephone messages without the phone ringing. The owner later opens his message box and finds one saying please call this number urgently.
When he does he is greeted with much misleading verbiage that leaves him confused and unwilling to hang up. Two minutes into the conversation he is told this call is costing him one pound ($1.50) a minute
The whole call lasts five minutes and he is out five pounds. The purpose of the call is to offer another telephone system that will make the call 25 percent cheaper.
The scam raises the question of whether an SMS message is an automated call, which is barred by an EU directive, or not.
Clearly, Lloyd said, “technology has overtaken regulators. You can now send and receive e-mails on the phone, through SMS or the Internet and that means three regulatory environments on one instrument.”
The meeting also discussed routine budgetary matters as well as the Best of Europe awards and the FEDMA forum, both being held in Brussels in November.