The Netherlands: Introduction of opt-out register for telemarketing

22 November 2007

Gerrit-Jan Zwenne

Surveys show that telemarketing is perceived by Dutch consumers as one of the most irritating forms of marketing. Almost no one appreciates ‘cold calls’ from insurance companies or cheap telecoms providers when having dinner, late at night either at home or on a mobile phone. Over 90% of consumers do not want to receive unsolicited calls from Product/Service providers.

In response to a recent survey the new State Secretary of Economic Affairs for Telecoms matters, Mr. Heemskerk, announced that he will introduce a compulsory opt-out register which companies should consult before calling people at home.

In The Netherlands consumers can now register with the Stichting Infofilter (www.infofilter.nl) if they do not want to be called by telemarketing companies. However, as companies are not legally required to use Infofilter’s files, the current system is considered inadequate. Infofilter’s information is not used by telemarketing companies for approximately 10% of all unsolicited calls. Furthermore, two thirds of consumers do not know that Infofilter exists.

In view of this the state secretary has concluded that a compulsory opt-out register is required. The Dutch telecoms regulator, OPTA, is considered to be the most appropriate organisation to accommodate the register. When the register has been established, telemarketing companies will be obliged to consult it before calling someone. Consumers can register themselves once if they do not want to be called by telemarketing companies.

Additionally telemarketing companies will also have to actively offer people the opportunity to opt-out of unsolicited telephone calls. The state secretary intends the measures to take effect from the beginning of 2008.