Why legitimate interests guidance is just the beginning

mark-royThe moment we’ve been waiting for has finally come – someone has untangled the jungle that is ‘legitimate interests’, and Robert Bond should be proud.
The new guidance provided by the Data Protection Network was much needed across the industry – a project with which REaD Group’s very own head of governance, Andy Bridges, has had the pleasure of being involved, so we’re acutely aware of the intricacies of the legislation that had to be unpicked.
In short, it’s good news and backs up what we’ve been saying for a while. However, there is still a long way to go. While the news that data can be processed under General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legitimate interests is clearly very refreshing, businesses must now work with their governance managers to understand the intricacies of GDPR and how it will impact them.
So what does this news mean? For one, you can expect to see a return to direct mail as a significant acquisition channel. We recently commissioned a report that examined trust in the retail sector and found that direct mail is still the preferred channel of brand communication for over a fifth of consumers, a figure we can expect to grow even more in light of GDPR legitimate interest.
Looking beyond direct mail, what is really important to remember is that GDPR is not the governing legislation for most digital channels. The new e-Privacy Regulation, which contains the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), is likely to see a far more stringent approach to how data will be able to be obtained, retained and maintained.
GDPR is about ensuring data is up to date and accurate. If not, it will need to be deleted. It’s that simple.
Failure to comply could potentially result in a fine of up to €20m or 4% of annual turnover, whichever is greater. On top of this, the associated reputational damage would be equally difficult for businesses to recover from. Sticking to the rules should therefore be a priority for all businesses, no matter how big or small they are, or what sector they operate in.
This means that suppression is about to become an even more important tool in a data marketer’s armoury. However, it is important to note that providers of such services will need to be compliant, reveal their sources and respect the principles of obtaining data legally. Again: stick to the rules.
While this guidance makes the concept of legitimate interests much clearer, there are still questions to be answered. Businesses need to monitor for further information to ensure they’re fully prepared for the May 25 2017 implementation date.
In the long-term, GDPR is good news for businesses and consumers. The journey to a more open and transparent way of using individuals’ data is on us and I believe it can only lead to a more positively disposed consumer, which must be a good thing for all.

Mark Roy is founder and chairman of REaD Group

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