FECL 11 (December 1992/January 1993):
Offers disguised as invoices, "immediate winnings" which later reveal themselves as orders, misleading advertising practices... Direct-mail activities are becoming ever less transparent. A growing number of people see "individual" computer-produced letters as an interference in their privacy.
In a widely remarked decision (90/12/0267) the Administrative Court (Verwaltungsgerichtshof) stated in February 1992 that many list broking activities were in breach of data protection legislation.
The ruling did not remain without effect: However, instead of reorganizing their advertising activities on a legal base along the lines of the court decision, the list broking firms launched a counter-attack by demanding for the very abolition of the respective provisions in the data protection law.
Obviously, intense lobbying had the desired effect on parliament.
Earlier experience of ARGE DATEN, an Austrian NGO striving for better protection of personal data, shows that list brokers do not bother a lot about data protection rights. The lifting of control of data-broking is likely to be seen as a passport to even more insolent advertising and marketing campaigns.
Uncontrolled data exchange of this kind must be seen as a massive encroachment on privacy. Consumer desires of perfectly private character all of a sudden become the target of dubious data haggling.
Othmar Brigar, ARGE DATEN
Contact: ARGE DATEN, Liechtensteinstr.94,A-1090 Wien, Tel: +43/1/3107740, Fax: +43/1/3103102.