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What the new EU Data Protection laws mean – Part Two: B2C Marketing

June 28, 2016

In my recent blog I talked about the new EU General Data Protection Regulations and the effect it will have on those who are sending emails to other businesses. The GDPR EU Directive finally became law on May 25th 2016 so will be enforceable after the two years grace period by May 25th 2018. Even if we go back to our own UK data protection laws after 'Brexit', we will opt for similar regulation according to Returnpath.




In this blog I will see what effect this will have on those emailing to consumer (personal) email address such as gmails, hotmails etc.  The changes introduced by the legislation will not be as big a shock for this group as it will be for the B2B marketers. To email to consumers you have needed an ‘opted in’ since the European Electronic communications legislation of 2003. So in that sense nothing will change.

However, there are some changes you need to be aware of and with fines of up to 4% of GDP it’s important to take notice.

The end of implied/ soft opt in

Under the previous law you could email existing customers as long as you gave them the chance to opt out at the time of purchase. This is known as a ‘soft’ opt in.

The new law removes this exception and consent must now be explicit. You now must be able to prove that the customer agreed to receive the emails. This shouldn’t be a sneaky pre-ticked box either if you want to stay on the right side of the law.

Having a good opt in process on your website will be vital and that you keep an audit path for every email address you hold.

The Right to be forgotten The new law has implications far beyond just email marketing and this includes ‘the right to be forgotten’ There is a great summary of the effect of this on the DMA website and it points out that you can no longer just collect data for the sake of it. If you wish to use people’s personal data, you will need proof that you have permission to use it for that purpose.  This applies not just to email addresses but to all the data in your CRM.

Clearly the new legislation will mean a tightening of process for b2 c marketers.  The next two years are a vital time to get your house in order.  With the new Information commissioner appointed it will be interesting to see what happens when her powers under the act come into force in May 2018.

Posted by Jenni Malley

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