How to limit unwanted (commercial) solicitation?

As an entrepreneur, you may be confronted with unwanted use of your contact details. Other companies might use them, for example, to send you advertisements or to call you with a business offer. They might have found these details in the Business Register. But they might also have other sources, such as data brokers, (online) business directories, or your company's website. If you do not want to be contacted for advertising and marketing purposes, you can limit this. This page provides information on how to do so.

Some notes on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) protects the use of personal data, not company data. Personal data is information that can be traced back to a person. Companies and organisations that use data about you as a person must comply with the GDPR. This also applies to buyers of data from the Business Register, if this concerns personal data. Suppose you are a freelancer and you run your business from home. Then your business address is probably the same as your residential address, which is considered personal data. In that case, your address may not be used without certain conditions.

If you are or have been a customer of a company, then this company may approach you for products and/or services similar to what you have already bought. Are you not (or have you not been) a customer? Then you must give permission or the company must have another legal basis (in Dutch) for using your address. In all cases, you can indicate that you no longer wish to be approached.

Unwanted calls

What can you do?

As of 1 July 2021, there is an official ban on cold calling. Companies and organisations that use telemarketing for commercial, idealistic, or charitable purposes will only be allowed to call if a natural person has given permission beforehand (opt-in), or if there is a customer relationship. In the latter case, this relationship must be based on similar products or services and estalished no longer than 3 years ago.

If you do not want them to do this regardless, you have a right to object. You can find more about this on the website of the Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM). You can avoid market research calls through the MOA Research Filter (in Dutch).

What if it does not work?

Do you receive unsolicited phone calls despite the cold calling ban? Then report it to the ACM. This helps them to see which companies are not complying with the rules. If it concerns market research by telephone, you can use the MOA Research Filter (in Dutch).

Mail or door-to-door sales

What can you do?

By activating the Non Mailing Indicator (NMI) of the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK, you state that you do not want your Business Register data to be used for mail advertising or door-to-door sales. We then include this NMI when providing data from the Business Register to customers. That way, the customer knows that you do not want to receive unsolicited advertising by mail or door-to-door sales. They must comply with this. If you have activated the NMI, this is also stated on the KVK extract and with your company details, which can be viewed on our website.

What if it does not work?

If you are approached after all, you can hold the company accountable for its non-compliance with the NMI. For this purpose, you can use the sample letters from the Dutch Data Protection Authority (Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens, in Dutch). Also monitor which other websites or platforms display your company data. Commercial data suppliers use these details to enrich Business Register data and sell them for direct marketing purposes. After this resale, the information that shows that you activated the NMI might get lost. However, anyone can use the search function on the KVK website at any time to find out, free of charge, whether the NMI was activated.

Emails and other spam

What can you do?

Sending digital messages with a commercial, idealistic, or charitable purpose is not allowed in the Netherlands. This is only possible if the recipient has given permission or is (has been) a customer of the company. This not only applies to email, but also to messages by telephone (SMS or MMS), forums, and social media such as Twitter or Facebook. This is regulated in the Telecommunications Act (Telecommunicatiewet).

What if it does not work?

If you receive spam, you can file a complaint with the ACM against the sender. If you want to limit spam, make sure to also monitor on which websites or platforms your company details are displayed. This data is easy to collect and use through web scraping. One tip to prevent this is to put your email address and other contact details on your website in an image rather than in running text.

What else is important to know?

The visitor address or registered address of your business is public. This does not apply to your private address. However, if your visitor address is the same as your private address, it will be public. It is set out in Dutch law that the visitor address of any business must be public. This is needed for legal certainty. It must always be clear who you are doing business with, and where you can submit a claim, for example. In some potentially threatening situations this can be a problem. That is why, under certain conditions, you have the option to shield your visitor address.

Are you not listed in the Business Register, but registered in the UBO register? Then your private address and other contact details will not be public.

In conclusion

It actually makes little difference where a company or organisation has obtained your data. Whether they got the information via the KVK Business Register, a commercial data supplier, or web scraping. In Europe and the Netherlands, we have agreed on rules for directly approaching consumers and companies for commercial purposes. Every company and organisation must comply with them. You can call out those who break the rules directly, and if that does not work, you can lodge a complaint with one of the authorities named above.