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[FYI] EU CEC on SPAM: OPT-OUT anstatt OPT-IN!?!


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                Media, Information Society & Data Protection  Electronic

                   Full text for downloading (PDF files, 105 KB - 373

                Amended proposal for a coherent legal framework for
                electronic commerce in the Single Market

                An amended proposal for a Directive to establish a
coherent legal framework for electronic
                commerce within the Single Market has been put forward
on 1 September 1999 by the
                European Commission. The amended proposal takes into
account the favourable Opinion
                from the European Parliament, adopted on the 6 May 1999,
on the original proposal that fully
                supported the Commission's Single Market approach. A
number of clarifications have been
                introduced in the amended proposal concerning 'inter
alia' definitions of Information Society
                services and of consumers, the link between the
electronic commerce proposal and existing
                consumer protection and data protection Directives, the
treatment of unsolicited commercial
                communications via electronic mail and determination of
the moment when an on-line
                contract is concluded. However, in order to preserve the
careful balance of interests featured
                in the original proposal, the Commission has maintained
the proposed rules limiting the
                liability of on-line service providers who act as

                The proposed Directive aims at establishing a coherent
legal framework for the development of
                electronic commerce within the Single Market by ensuring
that information society services benefit from
                the Single Market principles of free movement of
services and freedom of establishment. This would
                allow operators authorised in one Member State to
provide services throughout the European Union
                (EU). The proposed Directive establishes specific
harmonised rules only in a number of areas where this
                appears necessary to ensure the functioning of the
Single Market and the protection of public interest
                objectives such as consumer protection. These areas
include the definition of where operators are
                established, commercial communications, electronic
contracts, liability of intermediaries and enforcement
                of rights. In other areas, the Directive builds on
existing EU instruments which already provide for
                harmonisation at Community level or on the mutual
recognition of national laws.

                The European Parliament's Opinion supported the
Commission's initiative and in particular its Single
                Market-based approach. The Parliament also suggested a
number of amendments, largely of a technical
                nature, generally aiming at clarifying the Commission's
original proposal. The Commission's modified
                proposal reflects a large number of these amendments.
The main substantive changes concern:

                     the definition of an "Information Society service"
(article 2 (a)) - a direct reference has been
                     introduced to the definition established in the
Directive on prior notification of draft technical
                     standards and regulations (Directive 98/34) 
                     the definition of a "consumer" (article 2 (f)) - a
specific definition has been introduced in line with
                     that used in a number of existing Directives 
                     the link between this proposal and existing
Directives on consumer protection and protection of
                     personal data (articles 5, 6, 7 and 22.1) - this
has been further clarified. 
                     unsolicited commercial communications by e-mail
(article 7) - Member States would be obliged
                     to ensure that opt-out registers were made
available to consumers and consulted regularly by
                     service providers undertaking such unsolicited
commercial communications. This opens up a
                     pragmatic and workable solution to the problem of
unsolicited commercial communications
                     without prejudice to existing Directives. 
                     on-line contracts (article 11(1)) - the criteria
which would establish the moment of conclusion of
                     certain on-line contracts have been clarified and

                The amended proposal for a Directive will be forwarded
to the European Parliament and the EU's
                Council of Ministers for adoption under the co-decision

                Date: 1 September 1999
                For further details: E4@dg15.cec.be

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