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Brussels, 6 April 2011

Digital Agenda: better protection of Italian consumers against unwanted telemarketing calls; European Commission closes legal action

Italian telephone subscribers are now better protected from receiving annoying unsolicited telemarketing phone calls thanks to European Commission action to ensure the proper application of EU rules. Italy has now complied with its obligations under the EU Directive on privacy and electronic communications by implementing a new opt-out system which ensures that Italian citizens whose numbers are listed in public telephone directories do not receive unsolicited phone calls for marketing purposes. The change results from the opening of an infringement procedure against Italy by the Commission (IP/10/64), which has now been closed.

The Commission opened an infringement case against Italy in January 2010, as old databases established for directory services were available to external companies for marketing purposes without subscribers whose details were contained in the database having been informed. The Commission also raised concerns that subscribers would have difficulties to opt-out if they did not want their data to be used.

In response to the infringement case, the Italian authorities have implemented new rules that provide safeguards to stop subscribers receiving unsolicited phone calls for telemarketing purposes against their will. The safeguards include:

  • a public registry managing the list of subscribers who have said they are not willing to be contacted for telemarketing purposes

  • implementing rules adopted by the national data protection authorities on the use of subscriber's directories and

  • a forthcoming information campaign to raise public awareness of the new rules.


The Commission's concerns were based on the EU Directive on privacy and electronic communications (Directive 2002/58/EC). The Directive requires Member States to ensure that subscribers are informed in advance of their listing in a public subscriber directory and the possible further use of their data. Member States must ensure that subscribers can determine whether or not their personal data is included in a public directory and the extent to which their data is relevant for the purpose of the directory.

Member States must also ensure that phone calls for the purpose of direct marketing are not allowed either without the consent of the subscribers concerned or when subscribers have made it known that they do not wish to receive such phone calls. The choice between these options is left to national legislation, but subscribers must at least have the possibility in practice to opt-out.

Digital Agenda website:

An overview of telecoms infringement proceedings is available at:

For more information on EU infringement procedures, see MEMO/11/220.

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