The direct mail industry has been handed a new year boost after the Information Commissioner’s Office finally confirmed that companies will be able to use legitimate interests – and not have to gain explicit consent – under GDPR to contact consumers by post.
While many in the direct marketing sector have suggested this would be the case, in the absence of the regulator’s final guidance on legitimate interests – which it insists will be published sometime in the “new year” – it has been up in the air.
However, the ICO has now confirmed the move in a new FAQ section on its website specifically dedicated to charities, which has appeared without fanfare.
It reads: “You won’t need consent for postal marketing…you can rely on legitimate interests for marketing activities if you can show how you use people’s data is proportionate, has a minimal privacy impact, and people would not be surprised or likely to object.”
The move will provide a much needed shot in the arm to the likes of Royal Mail and Whistl, who have seen direct mail volumes come under pressure. It will also benefit data companies, which have been forced to overhaul the consumer data they hold in preparation for the much stricter GDPR regime.
The Institute of Fundraising recently called on the Government to give more support to the sector to ensure organisations achieve GDPR compliance, on the back of its own research which found that nearly half of all charities feel they lack the internal expertise to be compliant with the new regulation.
These included the establishment of a GDPR “hotline”; a targeted scheme to help charities upgrade their database systems; a campaign to raise awareness of the changes among smaller charities; and a scheme to work with industry bodies to offer more data-protection training.
However, the ICO document suggests the regulator will not produce any further guidance tailored to the charity sector in response to one FAQ asking if sector-specific advice is available.
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