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Justice minister moots tougher telemarketing law

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Justice minister moots tougher telemarketing law
Photo: DPA
11:43 CEST+02:00
Telemarketing firms are flouting a law against making unwanted sales calls, prompting Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger to announce Monday she was considering toughening the rules.

Communications watchdog the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) has already logged tens of thousands of breaches of the law and imposed fines totalling nearly €700,000.

In two glaring cases, they've fined companies a combined total of nearly €200,000.

Under the law introduced a year ago on Wednesday, companies need express permission to cold-call residents. But the BNetzA says firms have been gathering insufficient forms of approval via means such as getting people to click on standardised consent statements online.

Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger told daily Die Welt she was considering toughening the law, which came into effect last August under the former “grand coalition” government. If a review showed the law was currently “toothless,” recommendations to beef it up would have to be reviewed, she said.

Under the existing law anyone who has not expressly given their consent to receive telemarketing calls may not be called. Furthermore, telemarketers are not allowed to conceal their numbers on caller ID.

But it appears many companies are still flouting the law. Between August 2009 and April 2010 alone, the Bonn-based BNetzA registered more than 57,000 problems because of unwanted sales calls. The watchdog has so far fined companies nearly €700,000 in total for 11 breaches of the law.

“Whoever makes telemarketing calls without getting the necessary, express and effective consent of the consumer faces steep fines,” said BNetzA president Matthias Kurth.

He also vowed to step up penalties against companies that broke the law, regardless of whether the laws were toughened.

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