The German Telemedia Act (TMG) regulates the information that companies must provide in their business dealings when they present themselves to the outside world. An imprint with details of the company name belongs not only on web presences, but also in emails.
Imprint obligation according to TMG
In §5 of the TMG is regulated that in telemedia businesslike appearing service providers have to lead an imprint. By the way, already the indirect advertising of a product or service or the presence of an affiliate link is probably a business-like activity. Telemedia are electronic information and communication services. In addition to web pages, this also includes emails, of course. Email means "electronic mail", which sounds pretty clearly like an electronic communication service.
To the general mandatory information belong:
- Complete company name incl. chargeable postal address
- to provide an email address (see §5 TMG). A contact form is not sufficient (KG Berlin, judgement from 07.05.2013 5 U 32/12)
- VAT ID, if available. In no case indicate the tax number, since it could be abused
- Ggfs. the telephone number (recommended for online stores, for example)
The other mandatory information of the imprint vary depending on the type of company (GmbH, GbR, AG, Einzelunterneher etc.). In the case of a GmbH, for example, in addition to the general information, the following must be provided Legal form specific information be available:
- Name of the GmbH
- Address: Street, postal code, city, if applicable. Country
- Managing director
- Local court information
A commercially sent email must be provided with an imprint. The imprint consists of the mandatory information, which depends on the form of the company. The term "imprint" does not necessarily have to be present in an email. Rather, in my opinion, it is sufficient to provide all mandatory information after the indication of one’s own name, which is at the end of an email under the greeting formula.
Newsletter as a special case
For newsletters the imprint obligation applies naturally exactly the same as for all other business sent enamels. In the case of newsletters, it is advisable to indicate the imprint preceded by the term "imprint", since the content of a newsletter may originate from different authors or a newsletter may be sent automatically by appropriate services. In addition, the recipient of the newsletter must have been asked for permission before receiving (Double Opt-In). The recipient must also be given the option of unsubscribing from the newsletter via a link. Advertising mails sent without permission can lead to Cautions lead. If a person receives an unwanted advertising mail, he can warn the sender if he has not followed the rules. Consumers can also give warning here and not only companies resp. Competitors, as is the case with competitive warning letters.
In my opinion, there is a special case with DoubleOpt-In: The confirmation mail should ideally not be promotional in nature. Here one can argue, I think, whether a link to the imprint and thus to the website is happy. Better is probably to indicate the imprint textually in the mail.
Also for non-business communication a provider identification must be held, if Editorial content are present. These are in particular publicly perceptible expressions of opinion. In practice, this means that any opinion disseminated via the Internet is subject to the imprint obligation. Exceptions could be content that is protected by a password and accessible to only a few, e.g. the family circle .
For online stores, a note like the following should be provided:
Other possible regulations for online stores I can not specify here.
My name is Klaus Meffert. I have a doctorate in computer science and have been professionally and practically involved with information technology for over 30 years. In 2017, I came to data protection. Legal facts are not strange to me. I try to get my results by looking at technology and law. Anyway, this seems to me absolutely necessary when it comes to digital privacy. I would be pleased if you subscribe to my newsletter.