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Will Italy’s new rules really stop nuisance phone calls?

Clare Speak
Clare Speak - [email protected] • 28 Jul, 2022 Updated Thu 28 Jul 2022 09:07 CEST
Will Italy’s new rules really stop nuisance phone calls?
Getting a lot of marketing calls on your Italian number? There's a new way to help stop them. Photo by Jonas Leupe on Unsplash

Italy has expanded its national ‘Do Not Call’ register to include mobile phone numbers as of Wednesday. But some say this won’t be enough to deter telemarketers.

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From Wednesday, July 27th, Italian residents can add mobile numbers to the registro delle opposizioni, a list intended to prevent telemarketers from calling.

The register was previously used to remove landline numbers from public telephone directories, but it has been expanded as part of a set of measures intended to reduce the amount of unwanted calls (or telefonate moleste) Italy's residents receive.

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The new "register of opposition to telemarketing selvaggio" ('wild telemarketing') means "greater privacy protection for citizens and new obligations for operators", Italy's ministry for economic development said in a press release.

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Listing your number on the register means "cancelling consent to the use of data by operators, who will be obliged to consult the register periodically and in any case before the start of each advertising campaign", the ministry said.

The restrictions were first announced in May after the number of nuisance calls soared by around 20 percent compared to pre-pandemic times, with people in Italy getting an average of five per week, mainly from banks, telecommunications and energy companies.

The new rules also placed stricter limits on the use of data by telemarketers and included a ban on the use of automated or ‘robot’ marketing calls.

The penalties for companies caught breaking the rules are heavy. According to consumer rights association Codacons, telemarketing operators could face fines of up to 20 million euros for breaching the rules, while other businesses could be fined up to four percent of annual turnover.

But this still may not be enough to stop all unwanted calls, warned newspaper Corriere della Sera.

"For example, this doesn't apply to call centres located abroad: Italian law requires them to adhere to the rules, but its difficult to apply sanctions to those operating from outside the country," Corriere wrote.

"Illegal operators could also continue to harass phone users without the risk of incurring penalties."

So anyone hoping these rules will mean the end of nuisance calls once and for all may find that this isn't really the case.

But if you're one of the many people receiving an ever-increasing number of such calls, registering could be worthwhile if it cuts them down.

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It's free to add a mobile number to the list and the process is much the same as for adding landline numbers to the existing register: you can submit numbers either by phone, by completing a web form, or sending an email (either PEC or regular email), 

See more information on the official website here. The site appears to be available in English as well as Italian, though the English-language version was unavailable at the time of writing.

If the register proves not to be enough to deter persistent marketers, you can also screen calls on your smartphone using the ‘Chi sta chiamando‘ (‘Who’s calling’) app, which you can find here for Apple or Android devices.

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