THE NEW PUBLIC OBJECTIONS REGISTER (REGISTRO PUBBLICO DELLE OPPOSIZIONI)
The Public Objections Register (“POR” or “Register”) is a tool that aims to strengthen the position of consumers against aggressive commercial practices of telemarketing operators. As of July 27th 2022, the regulation for the new POR came into force, establishing some important protections in the interest of users and obligations towards operators.
The POR is a measure against so-called aggressive telemarketing and is a public service made available to users to express their refusal to receive advertising and promotional telephone calls. Alfredo Bergolo
Through enrolment in the Register, established by Presidential Decree No. 178 of 2010, the consumer expresses his or her objection to receiving telephone calls for commercial or promotional purposes. The service, which has been active since 2011 and for which the Ministry of Economic Development („MISE“) is responsible, was later updated by Presidential Decree No. 149 of 2019, which extended the scope of the POR to include paper advertising communications in addition to telephone calls. Through a service contract, the MISE entrusted the Ugo Bordoni Foundation with the implementation, management and maintenance of the service.
On January 21st 2022, the Council of Ministers approved the reform that strengthens the Public Objections Register, introducing numerous innovations both from the point of view of companies and contractors.
First, it is worth noting that the scope of the provisions in question has also been extended to other forms of marketing, not only in respect of commercial communications carried out through the activity of call centres. As provided for in Law No. 5/2018, the processing for the purpose of sending advertising or direct sales material or for carrying out market research or commercial communication of all fixed and mobile national numbers through the use of the telephone, whether or not they are included in contractor lists, and of the postal addresses included in the same lists, falls within the scope.
From the consumer’s point of view, then, registration in the Register makes it possible to block not only operator calls but also automated calls, i.e. made by means of automatic dialling software, which are increasingly common among operators and have so far escaped regulation.
In addition, consumers may also decide to include mobile telephone numbers in the Register, to prevent the receipt of promotional calls also on their mobile phones. This treatment was only reserved for fixed telephone numbers.
Another new aspect concerns the revocation of previous consents. Consumers have the possibility to register in the new POR the telephone numbers to which they do not wish to receive promotional communications: this entails the cancellation of all previously given consents.
All numbers that are not in the public telephone directory will also be entered automatically.
From the point of view of companies using so-called direct marketing activities, they are obliged to consult the Register monthly in order to remove new registered numbers from telemarketing initiatives. On the other hand, companies with which one previously had a contract may contact former customers within 30 days of the expiry of the contract. However, this is an exception, since from 15 days after a number has been entered in the Register, promotional calls to that number are considered unlawful.
Should an operator decide to contact a number for promotional purposes, even though it is included by the consumer in the POR, it would be in breach of the right to object and would be liable to administrative sanctions applicable under Article 83 of the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”). These can be up to EUR 20 million or up to 4% of the total annual worldwide turnover, whichever is higher.
In conclusion, registering with the POR makes it possible to avoid receiving unsolicited commercial communications from any company. On the contrary, if the consumer intends to receive such communications from a specific operator, he/she will have to express his/her consent directly to that specific company. The latter may then include in its promotional campaigns the numbers of that specific user, always subject to the rules on the processing of users‘ personal data, which must be processed in line with the GDPR, the Personal Data Protection Code, the guidelines and the binding provisions of the Data Protection Authority (Garante per la protezione dei dati personali).
The POR is a measure against so-called aggressive telemarketing and is a public service made available to users to express their refusal to receive advertising and promotional telephone calls.