EU ministers have tried to calm fears over consent for marketing data, saying explicit consent should only be required if organisations are processing sensitive personal information, such as medical records.
The issue of consent is one of the main bugbears of the UK marketing industry, amid fears that a switch to opt-in only would decimate the sector.
But the Irish presidency of the Council of Ministers has said that most EU member states were opposed to such a move, revealing that it would be “unrealistic”.
“The majority of member states agree that the requirement for ‘explicit’ consent in all cases – which differs from the requirements of the 1995 Data Protection Directive – was unrealistic,” according to a note issued by the Irish presidency.
It has published the latest version of the draft Regulation that EU ministers are still working on. Under the current plans unambiguous, rather than explicit, consent would be required by businesses processing personal data. In a statement, Alan Shatter, Ireland’s Justice Minister, said that there was significant support among EU countries for the latest proposals on the issue of consent.
“Consent should be given unambiguously by any appropriate method enabling a freely-given, specific and informed indication of the data subject’s wishes, either by a written, oral or electronic statement or by a clear affirmative action by the data subject signifying his or her agreement to personal data relating to him or her being processed,” according to the latest draft plans. “This could include ticking a box when visiting an Internet website or any other statement or conduct which clearly indicates in this context the data subject’s acceptance of the proposed processing of their personal data. Silence or inactivity should therefore not constitute consent.”
Earlier this year the European Data Protection Supervisor, which advises EU institutions on data protection and privacy matters, called on the requirement for explicit consent to be maintained in the final version of the legislation.
And some experts in the DM industry have expressed concerns that an opt-in only regime will be passed through the backdoor.
One insider recently told DecisionMarketing: “I simply don’t trust Viviane Reding [the EU justice commissioner and architect of the proposals]. She could quite easily get all this signed off and due to the wording then turn round and say ‘marketing must be opt-in only’.”
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