No-spam list for SA rendered useless?

The national register to opt out of direct marketing in South Africa will be made obsolete before it has even been implemented, Lance Michalson from Michalsons Attorneys recently explained in an article on the firm’s website.

This is because the Protection of Personal Information Bill (POPI) will switch South Africa from an “opt-out” approach to spam, to “opt-in”, Michalson said.

He went on to explain that under the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 (CPA), consumers are allowed to pre-emptively block any direct marketing by registering with a national opt-out list.

Such a national register was never implemented, Michalson said.

Lance Michalson
Lance Michalson

This is despite the fact that there were at least two opt-out registries for the National Consumer Commission to choose between; one by TrustFabric, the other by the Direct Marketing Association of South Africa.

Under POPI this will all be rendered moot, as the Bill adopts a “soft opt-in” approach to spam.

Tobias Schonwetter, director of UCT’s intellectual property unit in the Faculty of Law, previously told MyBroadband that POPI requires you to explicitly opt in to direct marketing, with the following exception:

  • The direct marketer obtained the client’s contact details in the context of a previous sale,
  • the purpose of the direct marketing pertains to a similar product or service, and
  • the client has been given the opportunity to opt-out of such communication and has not made use of it.

According to Michalson, the new provisions governing spam in POPI will effectively render the national opt-out register moot when the bill comes in effect.

“You cannot pre-emptively opt-out of something if you first need to opt in,” Michalson argued.

Tobias Schönwetter by Paul Scott
Tobias Schönwetter by Paul Scott

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No-spam list for SA rendered useless?