After nearly four years of debate, Brussels has seen the light and common-sense has finally prevailed, as the European Parliament Committee decided to adopt amendments to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR.) What’s so great about that? Simply put: direct mail is back, as opt-out remains very much in. So called “sensitive” information will become opt-in.
Direct mail is set to be the point of every marketer’s sword for the foreseeable future, as GDPR accepts unambiguous consent. The change in consent terminology from “explicit” to “unambiguous” is a small but significant victory for the industry. Combine this with the use of ad-blockers growing at a staggering 23% a year then the future for direct mail looks startlingly good.
Companies will now have to be overt about data use, and rightfully so. This means there won’t be any more “some of the data you provide may be used for advertising”, consumers will have definite options requiring yes and no answers.
But by the same token, consumers will still have to demonstrate clear affirmative action when choosing not to share information, such as actively ticking a box. I hear this result is down to very strong lobbying from data providers, strongly supported by the postal service providers, in particular Royal Mail, La Poste and Deutsch Post.
These new regulations also come with some tough penalties for breaching consumers’ data rights, with companies facing fines of up to 4% of annual turnover. This means that big firms such as Facebook could lose millions of pounds if they misuse EU residents’ data.
Another interesting outcome of the GDPR is that these regulations not only apply to those operating within the EU, but those operating in relation to its residents, creating a worldwide safety net for EU residents’ data.
For businesses working within the EU, this will make life a little easier with one rule for all, rather than variants between countries. One note of caution here though – enforcement of those ideals look pretty impossible to impose.
Personally, I’m delighted that Brussels has put consumers at the centre of the new GDPR. Honesty, openness and transparency will be the watchwords for the next few years and REaD Group will be ready come what may.
Mark Roy is chairman of The REaD Group
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