Federal Network Agency may take action against illegal telephone advertising

The Federal Network Agency has been upheld by the Administrative Court of Cologne (VG Köln) in three proceedings on telephone number abuse. The authority in Bonn had imposed harsh measures against Austrian companies which had been harassing consumers nationwide with thousands of unwanted profit calls under the brand name "Friedrich Müller®". The court declared both the disconnections of a total of 51 telephone numbers ordered in February and May of this year and the ban on billing and collection for all corresponding telephone connections to be lawful. Another five court cases are still pending.

In its reasoning, the court emphasised in particular that the alleged declarations of consent to the advertising measures submitted were all invalid.

The companies had always demanded a pre-formulated declaration of consent from their customers in the context of orders for goods and written competitions. According to this extensive clause, called a "data protection declaration", the customers agreed, among other things, "to receive advertising calls". In addition, the companies were to be authorised to pass on customer data to other companies of the "Friedrich Müller®" brand.

According to the Administrative Court, these pre-formulated declarations of consent do not constitute effective consents to advertising calls because it is practically unmanageable for the customer who can ultimately rely on such a declaration. The possibility to revoke the declaration does not change this, as the initiative to restore undisturbed privacy would thus be shifted to the consumer.

The President of the Federal Network Agency, Matthias Kurth, was pleased with the court decisions: "The Federal Network Agency has again been fully confirmed in its action against number spam. The decision encourages us to continue to take vigorous action against this type of violation of the law for the benefit of the consumer."

You can find the individual telephone numbers that have been issued with a disconnection order and a billing and collection ban on the websites of the Federal Network Agency.

Consumers affected by unwanted automated calls can contact the Federal Network Agency by telephone at +49 291 9955-206, by e-mail at rufnummernmissbrauch@bnetza.de or by post at the following addresses:

Federal Network Agency
Nördeltstr. 5
59872 Meschede


Federal Network Agency
Schütt 13
67433 Neustadt.

Source: Press release of the Federal Network Agency of 13.08.2008, Federal Network Agency for Electricity, Gas, Telecommunications, Post and Railway Press Office, Tulpenfeld 4,53113 Bonn, http://www.bundesnetzagentur.de/enid/2.html

Goldberg Attorneys at Law, Wuppertal-Solingen 2008
Attorney at Law Michael Ullrich, LL.M.(Information Law)