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What Does Double Opt-in Mean & Which Countries Require Double Opt-in Consent?

Published December 7, 2023 / Updated December 13, 2023

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Marketers are often divided when it comes to choosing between obtaining double opt-in or single opt-in consent from individuals. Some believe that single opt-in offers better conversions or an increased rate of sign-ups. Others believe that double opt-in ensures quality email lists, i.e., subscribers who are genuinely interested.

However, the primary focus of the debate isn’t just about the quality of the subscribers but compliance with data protection legal frameworks in the EU. Does double opt-in meet all the consent criteria as provided under Articles 7 and Recital 32 of the GDPR? Is double opt-in specifically required under the GDPR?

This blog will dive deep into the depths of double opt-in consent, its legal status under the GDPR, and its requirements in different countries.

What is Double Opt-in?

Single opt-in requires users to provide their information and sign up to receive the company’s content emails. Hence, users are immediately added to the email marketing list. However, double opt-in, also known as confirmed opt-in, adds another verification step to this process. Users must first provide their information and click the signup button on the website. Once users click the signup button, they receive an email requiring them to reconfirm their subscription in a separate process. The user is added to the subscription list only after clicking the confirmation link in the email.

Double opt-in is an additional layer of legal security for marketers and business owners. It is a great way to show and prove users’ valid consent for receiving marketing emails. Double verification perfectly fulfills the unambiguous element of valid consent under the GDPR.

Is Double Opt-in Required under GDPR? No, GDPR doesn’t explicitly require double opt-in for consent compliance. However, GDPR requires consent to be unambiguous, affirmative, specific, informed, and freely given, and double opt-in is considered to be the best practice to obtain explicit and unambiguous consent. Moreover, it reduces the risk of complaints, unsubscribes, bots, and spam reports.

Germany

As mentioned before, GDPR doesn’t require double opt-in consent. However, many countries have generally established it as a recommended practice. For instance, court judgments have mandated double opt-in consent for direct marketing in Germany. Further, double opt-in became a required practice in Germany for direct marketing under the German Data Protection Conference (DSK)’s guidelines of 2022.

The DSK guidelines draw upon the legal precedent set by the case of Grundsatzentscheidung zur Zulässigkeit von E-Mail-Werbung, which affirmed the requirement of using the double opt-in mechanism for direct marketing purposes. In this specific legal case, the German Federal Court of Justice (BGH) interpreted that GDPR’s requirement to prove /demonstrate consent may be fulfilled through the use of the double opt-in method. The BGH has emphasized that simply saving an IP address and claiming consent based on it falls short of complete legal compliance.

Apart from Germany, double opt-in isn’t strictly required in any other European country, but it is considered a best-recommended practice in countries like Austria, Norway, Greece, Luxembourg, and Switzerland.

Austria

In one of its rulings, the Austrian Data Protection Authority recommended double opt-in consent as a security measure to protect personal data, as Article 32 of the GDPR required. This means that when consumers provide their email addresses for marketing, they should verify ownership through email verification to ensure their data is not processed without authorization.

Norway

In Norway, the Consumer Authority recommends organizations use double opt-in consent for email marketing. The authority recommends this practice as it helps to prevent misunderstanding and potential misuse of users’ personal data.

The double opt-in consent mechanism also helps to avoid harassment registration as the affirmative action of the user implies their expressed interest in receiving emails when signing up on a company’s business website. The recipient then confirms their interest by clicking the confirmation link in the email. Once the recipient has activated the confirmation email, they are considered to have provided explicit consent.

Before obtaining consent, it is essential to provide the consumer with clear and comprehensive information regarding the scope and nature of marketing activities. This should encompass details on the frequency of marketing communications, the specific products or services being promoted, and explicit information about the sender of these marketing communications, whether it's the company itself or a representative acting on their behalf.

Greece

In Greece, Direction 2/2011 from the Hellenic Data Protection Authority through its Direction 2/2011 recommends using double opt-in to obtain email marketing consent. As per the Direction, the double opt-in mechanism may be used as an alternative to sending consumers emails that notify them of their consent and provide them with a means of withdrawing consent.

What Are the Benefits of Using Double Opt-in?

Today, users are more aware of their online data privacy rights than a few decades ago. In fact, they are better informed of the various data privacy and anti-spam laws, such as the EU GDPR, CAN-SPAM Act, Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), etc. Therefore, implementing the double opt-in mechanism will serve as a tangible demonstration to users that an organization highly respects their privacy rights and is committed to strict compliance with these regulations.

Apart from compliance considerations, double opt-in also improves the quality and deliverability of the email list. Organizations get to add only those subscribers to their mailing lists who are truly interested in their business and want to hear from them in the future.

Securiti, a leader in PrivacyOps, helps organizations streamline and automate their privacy operations. Securiti’s Universal Consent Management solution helps organizations capture consent from various sources and orchestrate it downstream across 100s of pre-connected systems.

Privacy teams can leverage the Privacy Center to automate Cookie & GPC preferences, Privacy Notices, DSRs, and Do Not Track or Sell signals. Now, organizations can also configure a double opt-in preference center with the help of Securiti’s platform. In the double opt-in preference center, data subjects must give their consent and then confirm it for it to be considered granted.

Request a demo to set up your Privacy Center today.

Frequently Asked Questions

No, sending unsolicited emails clearly violates an individual’s privacy and many other anti-spam and data privacy laws, such as the US CAN-SPAM Act or the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Double opt-in is considered to be a best practice to obtain valid consent from users. Apart from legal compliance consideration, it also improves the quality and deliverability of email lists since only those genuinely interested in receiving a company’s email would sign up.

Opt-in means any mechanism where the individual expressly provides his or her prior consent for processing their personal data to receive marketing emails or other purposes. Double opt-in consent is usually employed when collecting emails for marketing purposes, whereby an individual receives an email with a confirmation link after the initial opt-in on a website. The individual clicks the confirmation link to express his explicit consent.

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