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An Opt-In System Will Be Enacted from Tomorrow

Posted March. 29, 2005 22:55,   


All telemarketers who want to advertise their products or services such as real estate, loan services, and phone dating are required to obtain the permission of the recipients in advance from March 31. Those who violate the law will be fined up to 30 million won.

The Ministry of Information and Communication announced on March 29 that an “opt-in” system, in which telemarketers must gain the permissions of recipients before they can advertise through landline phones, mobile phones, or fax machines, will be implemented starting from March 31.

Under the law, it is also illegal for telemarketers to send text messages or SMS and for non-profit organizations to provide information related to a certain type of product or service for profit without the permission of recipients. Advertisers are required to make an additional agreement with the recipients if they want to advertise their goods between 9:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. of the following day. Telemarketers are banned from making phone calls to obtain permission for marketing since such actions are regarded as telemarketing, so they have to receive permission through personal meetings, e-mails, or the Internet.

For spam e-mails, however, the current opt-out system, in which recipients should show its willingness of refusal, will remain.

The Ministry of Information and Communication said, “So far, it has been difficult to punish the offenders since it was difficult to verify their refusal for receiving the calls, but imposing the punishment will be much easier now since sending advertisements itself is illicit,” adding, “The prosecutors and the police will root out unsolicited phone calls through crackdowns.” With the introduction of this law, telemarketing is expected to decline. However, there is still room for confusion as the government left exceptional regulations for communications sales and has not clarified how to deal with e-mails seeking to obtain permission from the recipients. Door-to-door or communications sales businesses such as study books, cosmetics and water purifiers are not required to obtain permission when they market their products. But they must receive permission when they unilaterally advertise through recorded voices.

The ministry encourages people to report cases to the Spam Countermeasure Team (02-1336) at the Korea Information Security Agency whenever they receive telemarketing calls without their agreement.

Suk-Min Hong smhong@donga.com