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How to send bulk SMS messages without running into legal problems

This article will explore the law on sending bulk messagesto customers, focusing on the Spanish legislation around data protection and e-commerce.

Spanish legislation specifies a code of conduct only for SMS that carry an additional tariff. The general legal framework falls under Organic Law 15/1999 of the personal Data Protection act (LOPD), and under Law 34/2002 of the social information services and e-commerce (LSSI) act. The Royal Decree and Law 13/2012 also regulates this area in greater detail.

6 minutes of reading
Publication: 11.30.2017
Última modificación: 06.27.2022

How to send bulk SMS messages without running into legal problems

The LOPD started to regulate the storage of personal data, which until that point, had been in a legal limbo. Businesses are no longer able to disseminate personal data if it is not public and there is now an increased number of instances in which this sharing of information is considered a crime. The Spanish Agency for Data Protection (AEPD) was created to ensure compliance.

The LSSI complements, in part, what has been established by the LOPD in reference to e-commerce, and adds some mandatory guidelines for businesses that obtain information from the internet and trade with it. Non-compliance can carry fines of up to 600,000 euros.

The Royal Decree and Law 13/2012 modifies some aspects of the LSSI to adapt regulation to the framework imposed by the European Union, specifically with regards to directives 2009/140/CE and 2009/136/CE, that concern the rights of citizens and e-commerce.

In short, in order to legally send SMS to potential customers, you need to make sure you have consent, and clearly state how customers can unsubscribe if and when they want to. This is mandatory as long as the data isn’t public - discounting companies that receive publicity.

  1. Check the legality of your database, especially a database of personal contacts. If you have sourced it yourself, it’s as simple as creating a document in which you have customer consent to receive advertising information. If you bought the database, we advise you to ask again to avoid issues.
  2. Once you have the express consent of your customers, modify the frequency of your messages. As a general rule, more than two communications per week offering products or promotions has the opposite effect on a potential customer. Always warn in advance that the SMS is publicity.
  3. Identify yourself clearly and transparently. This will generate trust in users and will help to dispel doubts or misgivings. You can outsource your messaging to another company but make sure that your company is able to receive and respond to inquiries.
  4. It is mandatory that you clearly state to customers how they can unsubscribe. The option to unsubscribe is usually embedded in the text of the message, in a short sentence explaining what to do if customers want to stop receiving messages. You might lose a contact in the short term, but that is a lot better than a customer becoming resentful towards your brand.
  5. Finally, keep in mind that for any modification, such as selling or passing on data to another company, you will have to consult the user if you have not otherwise explicitly indicated that you might do it.

Follow these simple guidelines to utilize your database to attract customers to your company or business without getting into legal trouble, and ensure that potential customers feel positively towards your brand.

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