Is it legal to ‘force you’ to accept email marketing?

There’s no way that I can login at Starbucks without agreeing to accept emails from BT. I’m not sure that’s legal. Does anyone know? Even if it is legal, it’s bloody shocking. And big companies like Starbucks and BT ought to know better.

Posted via email from crackunit’s posterous

11 thoughts on “Is it legal to ‘force you’ to accept email marketing?”

  1. hi ian,
    no it is not legal. Or at least it is in contravention of the code of practise.
    Looks like a good new biz opportunity to me. Get one of your suits on the phone.
    Enjoy the blog – thanks.

  2. Boy, that’s a doozy. While CAN-SPAM requires companies to provide clear mechanisms to opt-out from all future messages, checking that box and logging in seems like it falls under the “affirmative consent” section of the law: it’s clearly stated that by logging in, you’re opting back in. I don’t think US Law is set up to handle this, and I’m sure Starbucks’s lawyers knew that. You probably could file a complaint to the FTC, as this doesn’t seem to follow the spirit of the SPAM rules in place.

  3. What this illustrates is the rather blaise attitude people have to the definition of the word ‘free’ these days.

    Starbucks are charging you for their Wifi by making you receive marketing spam.

    Depressingly, I doubt there is much you can do about it.

  4. According to the Privacy and Electronic Communications ( EC Directive) Regulations 2003, organisations cannot send unsolicited marketing communications by email to individual subscribers unless the recipient has given his prior consent. Which means the opportunity to actively opt in to receive communications (generally considered best practice) or opt out od receiving communications.

    In this case you don’t have an opportunity to opt-out – it is part of the condition of using the service, which I’m pretty sure is illegal.

    But I’m no lawyer.

  5. @James Cherkoff

    Pretty sure he’s tried that.

    The whole point was if you just un-tick the box you can’t proceed and get wifi

  6. This is not illegal unfortunately. It’s quite a strange thing for Starbucks to do and what often happens is that within the the Terms and Conditions (which normally everyone accepts without reading) there will be a privacy policy which will set out whether Starbucks can send your personal information to 3rd parties.

    In this way its making it clearer to you what they are intending to do rather than hiding it away in the Terms and Conditions which no one reads.

    I’m afraid that “free wifi” has never really existed as the price has always been providing information for the provider’s database and possible the database of third parties.

  7. It’s illegal to make you ‘opt out’ rather than ‘opt in’ for email marketing. Maybe the law gets determinist on Free Will after that. Maybe Starbucks found some loophole. I guess the latter’s more likely.

    Bundling together T&Cs with spam is sneaky and snide. At very very least, they should be separate tick boxes – one mandatory, the other ignore-able.

  8. I’ve seen a couple of these sneaky things lately,
    @guy as far as I know it is technically illegal however it’s one of those things that’s rarely ‘enforced’.
    From starbucks and BT point of view – it’s one of those silly thoughtless things that it going to cause ill feeling which far outweighs any benefit of having the data, they should know better.

  9. I guess you don’t get ‘owt for nowt!

    But, to get free wifi, maybe we should be prepared to accept some marketing, at least you would hope it would be targeted and (vaguely) useful?

    Still…I am not convinced. It is just an easy route to get more email addresses and build their contact lists.

  10. Why does anyone go to f'ing Starbucks? There are dozens of great, local coffee shops within a few miles of me, not one of which charges for internet or sells my email address.

    I'm baffled that anyone puts up with it.

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