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Halloween Marks Start of EU Privacy Directive

The European Union's Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive takes effect in all member states Oct. 31. The directive requires marketers to receive prior consent from consumers before using a recorded message during telemarketing or sending unsolicited e-mail and faxes.

Direct marketers contacting consumers in any of the 15 EU member states via e-mail, fax or telephone with a recorded message, or who are renting a list of consumers in EU member states for marketing via one of these methods, must receive consent.

The ban does not apply to existing customer relationships, however, so marketers can continue communicating to existing customers as long as they provide a legitimate mechanism to opt out.

In addition to being implemented in member states, many candidate countries are enacting similar laws. In total, the directive eventually will become policy in 25 nations. The directive is also to be reviewed by the European Parliament within three years of its application by member states.

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