If you last registered your details in the National Opt-Out Database more than three years ago, your registration has lapsed and registered direct marketers in South Africa are allowed to contact you.
The National Opt-Out register is administered by the Direct Marketing Association of South Africa (DMASA), which requires that its members check their own marketing databases against the opt-out database.
DMASA members are not allowed to contact anyone who has opted themselves out of receiving direct marketing using the National Opt-Out Database.
However, as one MyBroadband reader recently found out, your registration in the DMASA’s opt-out database expires after three years.
When asked why people’s registrations expire after this period, DMASA CEO David Dickens told MyBroadband that the organisation had to take the constitutional rights of South African citizens to heart.
“We had to look at the intention and spirit of Consumer Protection Act as well as the Protection of Personal Information Act and find a balance between protection and yet give consumer access to the market place of business,” Dickens said.
He said that he believes a good balance between access and protection was three years.
According to Dickens, the National Opt-Out Database gives the consumer the option to not be contacted by over 300 companies.
When a consumer’s three year anniversary comes up, the DMASA automatically sends out an email or SMS reminder and provides a link to opt out for another three years.
“Hence the right to protection and the right to access of information is balanced,” stated Dickens.
In addition to sending out email and SMS reminders, Dickens said that the DMASA uses radio and television to educate consumers around its opt-out facility.
“The year 2020 will see more consumer education around data, opt-out, and direct marketing as a means to affordable products and services for consumers, always underpinning responsible marketing by our members.”
POPIA: Changing from opt-out to opt-in
While companies are currently able to send direct marketing messages to any email address or cellphone number they can lay their hands on in South Africa, the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) aims to crack down on this practice.
Under the Consumer Protection Act, all direct marketing in South Africa must include a way to opt out of receiving further communications from the company sending it out.
With POPIA the restrictions on direct marketing will shift from being opt-out by default, to opt-in by default. Companies will have to get consent from consumers before they are allowed to send marketing messages to them.
Where companies have an existing relationship with a customer, the rules are slightly more permissive.
Companies will be allowed to send direct marketing messages if the customer was given a chance to opt-out when they opened their account. These messages may also only promote similar products or services to what you bought from the company initially.