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The Kelsey Report® Advisory

Is EU 'Opt-In' Privacy Scheme Really Opt In?
Bobbi Loy-Luster , 11/14/2002

Issue: Full Impact of Directive on Directory Industry Unclear

News: European Union (EU) data-protection directives are of critical importance to the directory community, and the reason is fairly straightforward. Data (i.e., directory listings) are the underlying enabler for all information services offerings. Whether delivered through a directory publisher's print, online and voice products, or through live operators, the availability of directory listings is potentially at risk given new, stricter EU regulations.

In July 2002, the European Commission and European Parliament implemented a data-protection directive that could have negative implications for the directory industry. The directive, EU 2002/58, states that directory database compilers be required to make subscribers "opt in," as opposed to the opt-out format currently used in most markets.

While the directive has an impact on all 15 European Union member states, it also affects any company outside the EU wanting to work with EU data. This is due to already established data-protection laws that require outsiders to comply with "adequate" standards. Fortunately, the language of the directive is such that there is leeway in the interpretation by the 15 member states. With compliance of the directive requested by October 31, 2003, next year will be an important one for the directory industry to monitor each country's decision closely.

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