The Information Commissioner’s Office has warned UK companies to brace themselves for a future in which all of their direct marketing data is captured with explicit – opt-in – consent.
Despite conceding that the EU General Data Protection Regulation is still at least three years off – and unlikely to be on the UK statute book until 2017 at the earliest – deputy commissioner David Smith told business leaders opt-out data could soon be illegal.
The issue of consent for marketing data has been one of the major concerns for UK direct marketers; any move to bring in an opt-in only regime would render obsolete millions of database marketing records.
Speaking exclusively to DecisionMarketing, the boss of one major UK data company – who did not want to be named – claimed that moving to an opt-in regime would put them out of business within weeks.
The situation has been exacerbated by the mixed messages coming from Brussels. The Irish member of the Council of Ministers has said that most EU member states were opposed to such a move, revealing that it would be “unrealistic”, but others – most notably EU justice minister Viviene Reding – have been less forthcoming.
MEPs have already voted for the change, but the Council and the Commission have yet to agree their positions. The so-called tripartite negotiations are expected to get underway in December 2014, with the legislation passed in 2015. This will be followed by a two-year “grace” period to give companies the time to adapt.
Speaking at Infosecurity Europe 2014 in London, Smith urged companies to get their systems in place now in preparation for the new laws to ensure they will not face future issues.
He said: “It is important that the consent to collect data and use it for a specific purpose is prominent and not tucked away somewhere in a user agreement.
“Businesses will require explicit consent and must ensure that, in all their processes, it is very clear what data is being collected and for what purpose.”
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