Call centre operators wanting to pass on marketing messages have less than three months left to call people on phone numbers in public telephone directories. This option will end on 1 July 2022; after then, people can only be contacted via such phone numbers if they have given their consent. The change responds to the largely negative public attitude towards marketing phone calls, with most people not wishing to be bothered by unsolicited marketing communications. The prohibition on the communication of marketing information will apply to both natural and legal persons, regardless of their business.
The amendment to the Electronic Communications Act tightens the previous regulation under which it was possible to contact persons at telephone numbers listed in the public directory unless they informed (usually their operator) that they disagreed with receiving marketing messages. Now, vice-versa, they will have to inform their operator or the person maintaining the public directory that they wish to receive marketing messages.
Public directories are currently maintained by private entities (e.g., the Yellow Pages) that obtain telephone numbers and other identiﬁcation data from mobile operators or other providers of person-to-person information transfer services (so-called interpersonal communication service providers). Should other contact details (e.g., email address) be included in the public list, the restriction on marketing communications also applies to these communication channels. However, there is currently no comprehensive public list in which the contact details of all persons who have consented to telemarketing communications can be traced. In addition, restrictions will also apply to lists of randomly generated numbers.
The restriction will only apply to calls where there is no relationship between the contacting and the contacted person, i.e., the contacted person is not a customer of the contacting person. Thus, the amendment does not affect existing relationships between businesses and customers. If a customer has already given consent to the business, the business can continue to contact the customer based on this consent even if the customer has not consented to such contact according to the public list. Businesses can therefore still contact their existing customers and offer them their products and services. If a contact is based on a source other than the public list, the contacting person will have to demonstrate how the contact was obtained and that they are entitled to treat the contact in this way.
In effect, the amendment will significantly restrict telemarketing in the Czech Republic, as businesses will only be able to contact people who have previously consented to be contacted (either individually or via a public list) or are existing customers and still have the option to refuse.