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By Richard van Staden ten Brink

Joint regulation on tell-a-friend Web site forms

The Dutch Telecommuni-cations Authority (DTA) and the Dutch Data Protection Authority (DDPA) recently published a joint regulation that clears up the long-standing question as to whether so-called tell-a-friend forms are allowed under Dutch telecommunication and privacy laws. Tell-a-friend forms are Web site forms that site visitors may use for inviting friends via e-mail to visit the Web site. Social networking sites often make use of such forms to acquire new members.

In the joint regulation, the DTA and the DDPA dictate that tell-a-friend forms are only allowed if (i) the Web site visitor sends the e-mail invitation at his or her own initiative; (ii) the Web site operator does not offer rewards to its visitors for using the tell-a-friend form; (iii) it is clear to the recipient who has sent the e-mail invitation; (iv) the Web site visitor is able to review the full e-mail invitation before it is sent; and (v) the Web site operator does not store the e-mail address of the recipient.

The joint regulation applies to all Web sites that send e-mail invitations via tell-a-friend forms to Dutch e-mail accounts. It may therefore affect both Dutch Web sites and international Web sites that have Dutch visitors.

Richard van Staden ten Brink is advocaat at De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek. He may be reached at richard.vanstadentenbrink@debrauw.com

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