The Consumer Ombudsman is notifying stricter requirements for obtaining consent to sending of e-mail and SMS marketing. Businesses that do not follow the Ombudsman’s requirements for acquisition of consent risk heavy fines.

Section 15 of the Marketing Act prohibits business players from sending marketing material to consumers without prior consent. There are several requirements with which businesses must comply in obtaining such consent, and it is the business player who must document that such consent has been lawfully obtained.

In the first place the consent must be voluntary, which means that it cannot for example be made the condition for shopping in a web-store that one must receive marketing. It must also be possible to revoke the consent at any time.

Furthermore, consent must be explicit. Consumers cannot be bound by passivity, so that a pre-ticked box or a provision in the general terms and conditions are not sufficient evidence of consent to receive marketing. The Consumer Ombudsman recommends that business players have a separate box on the web-page that must be ticked to confirm willingness to receive marketing.

The consumer must also be clearly informed that he is consenting to receipt of marketing, how often he will receive it and what kinds of products will be marketed. If consent to receive marketing is sought on behalf of the businessman’s partners, this must be stated, and there must be an up-to-date list of the businessman’s partners from whom the consumer will receive marketing, together with a description of what marketing they will send out and in what quantity. This information must appear in the same screen image as the one on which consent is given.