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Data protection laws are changing

For some time, we have been aware of the coming storm regarding the replacement to the outdated Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC – (implemented UK 1998 Data Protection Act).

The proposed EU Data Protection Regulation is right around the corner, with the regulation intended to be announced in Brussels early next year. But why is this new regulation being proposed?

If we think back to the technological landscape associated with businesses and marketing back in 1998, when the last Data Protection Act came into force in the UK, you will notice some changes.

Windows 98 was new to Microsoft. The kids were all playing on their Nintendo Gameboys. Apple was releasing the iMac (remember those funky coloured monitors which probably weighed the same as the desk it was sitting atop?!)

There is a lack of a common EU law governing data privacy, with EU member states having wildly different standards. For businesses, like ours, wishing to market internationally, this causes a few headaches.

There is also a growing consumer demand over privacy; several UK tabloids have been on a mission to sensationalise companies that sell personal data to the scammers and spammers.

Businesses like ours need to be aware that business data is classified by law as personal data if it contains a name linking them to a place of business ie; a personal business email addresses

Data protection is now a fundamental right under the EU Charter.

So at some point early next year, this regulation will be passed by the courts – despite Germany and UK dragging their heels, for opposite reasons. Germany has some of the strictest regulations, like their double opt-in for email marketing, whilst David Cameron is desperately trying to protect British business interests.

Businesses will then have a 2-year grace period to prepare themselves before the regulation is passed into law.

The potential impact to direct marketing once this regulation becomes law is that:

  • Existing databases may become unusable
  • No tracking data, profiling or segmentation without consent
  • List broking severely restricted
  • New requirements around personal data rights, e.g. The Right to be Forgotten
  • Increased costs as business pay to comply
  • Possible £47 billion lost sales in UK alone

Additionally, in a dramatic judgement, the European Court of Justice has struck down the Safe Harbour agreement that has allowed companies to transfer data to the US. But while the ruling has potentially serious impact in the long term, marketers don’t need to panic just yet. While Safe Harbour is now invalid, the ICO has reassured UK businesses that it’s reasonable to give some time to consider other options. In addition, negotiations that could expand to a ‘Safe Harbour 2’ agreement may now accelerate.”
– Chris Combemale – CEO DMA Group 

As an ethical and compliant B2B marketing agency, we at Fieldworks are aware that there is a storm coming. With help from the Direct Marketing Association – of which we are proud members – we are preparing for these changes.

But how prepared is your business?

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