Direct marketing refers to marketing sent to a consumer by post, telephone or email.
Collection of direct marketing data
The Finnish Personal Data Act requires that those who keep registers of personal data make it clear to consumers on collection of their personal data if the data will be used for direct marketing. If this is not done, then the data may not be used for direct marketing.
The marketer must disclose the source of the consumer’s contact data. Consumers must also be informed of the right to opt out of direct marketing.
Every person has the right to refuse to allow the use of their personal data for direct marketing purposes. The way in which this is done depends on the form of the marketing.
Addressed direct marketing and telephone sales
Direct marketing may be restricted by:
- informing the marketer or vendor directly, in which case the ban on direct marketing applies only to the company in question, and/or
- denying the disclosure of name and address data from information systems maintained by the authorities, and/or
- signing up with a direct marketing restriction service. Some of these services may be subject to charge.
Restrictions to addressed direct marketing and telephone sales may be set through the following links:
Population Register Centre
Address data is used, among other things, for opinion and market surveys and for direct marketing. To prevent this, use the form on the Population Register Centre’s website or contact the centre by telephone.
Finnish Transport Safety Agency (Trafi)
Trafi supplies address data to companies that carry out direct marketing. Requests for Trafi not to disclose address data and to opt out of marketing must be addressed in writing to Trafi’s Information Services.
Suomen Asiakkuusmarkkinointiliitto (ASML)
ASML is a self-regulatory body of the Finnish customer marketing sector, which offers information on the right to restrict direct marketing. It also maintains restriction services for telephone sales and addressed direct marketing. The members of the association comply with the restrictions made with ASML. There may also be other companies offering direct marketing restriction services on the market. Each of them is responsible for the functionality of its own services.
Unaddressed direct marketing
The mailing of direct marketing is permitted unless it is expressly forbidden by the recipient. Unaddressed advertising delivered to all post boxes may be prevented by placing a “No advertising mail” or similar notice on the letterbox.
The ban on unaddressed advertising applies to all unaddressed marketing materials. The restriction cannot be applied only to specific advertisements or advertisement types. Exceptions include official communications and advertising supplements placed inside newspapers or magazines, which cannot be prevented.
Electronic direct marketing
Electronic direct marketing, such as sending advertisements by email or SMS, requires an express advance permission from the recipient. If the consumer has not granted such permission, the company that sends the marketing message is breaking
- the Act on the Protection of Privacy in Electronic Communications. The Data Protection Ombudsman monitors compliance with the Act.
- the Consumer Protection Act, that prohibits the use of aggressive procedures. Harassment, that may for instance be direct marketing in violation of the Personal Data Act or the Act on the Protection of Privacy in Electronic Communications, is considered an aggressive procedure. The Consumer Ombudsman monitors compliance with the Consumer Protection Act.
The consumer must be offered an active method (such as a checkbox) for indicating approval of the receipt of electronic marketing messages. Companies may not obtain approval, for example, through automatically checked checkboxes when collecting data from the consumer for other purposes, such as contracts or marketing.
In exceptional cases, companies may send electronic direct marketing without the consumer's permission, provided that all of the following conditions are met:
- contact details were received in conjunction with selling a product and the message is only intended to market products similar to those sold in the previous transaction.
- if the marketing uses the same communication channel that was used for purchasing a product (i.e. text messages may be used if a product was bought by text message).
- if the consumer was informed in connection with the sale that marketing messages may be sent.
- if the consumer is clearly and distinctly informed in connection of each e-marketing message of the right to opt out of such messages.
Broadband subscriptions that include advertising
Consumers are offered mobile phone and broadband subscriptions in which the contractual terms and conditions oblige the consumer to receive advertisements by text and multimedia message, and by email. Subscriptions of this kind are permitted, but subscriptions which do not oblige the consumer to receive marketing must also be offered.
Upon entering into the subscription contract, the consumer must be clearly informed of the type and frequency of marketing to be received by the holder of the subscription. In every case, the consumer's agreement to electronic marketing must be based on his or her express willingness to receive it.
The consumer has an ongoing right to cancel his or her agreement to the receipt of advertising without adverse consequences, in such a manner that the company cannot charge him or her for cancelling such an agreement, or for the related administration or other, corresponding issues. However, if the consumer cancels his or her agreement to receive advertising, the company is under no obligation to continue providing the subscription at the same price.
After cancelling his or her agreement to be a recipient of direct marketing, a consumer can, for example:
- change to another subscription type, which does not include advertising, with the same operator. Subscriptions of this kind can be more expensive than those which include advertising.
- enter into a subscription with another operator.