New Data Protection Laws set to Transform the Marketing Landscape

In a recent post we discussed a number of important guidelines businesses must follow to ensure their marketing is compliant with the various regulations and Acts.

We talked about the law on email marketing, and about ‘soft opt-ins’ that allow you to contact anyone who’s details you have obtained during the course of a sale or negotiations for a sale of a product or service, providing you follow certain rules set down by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Data Handling: Significant Changes Afoot

If this is a rule you’ve been taking advantage of in your marketing, you’ll need to know that significant changes are afoot. Later this year, new data protection laws will be introduced under EU Data Protection Reform. These new rules will radically transform how as a business, you are allowed to handle customer data.

This new legislation has been created with the aim of protecting consumers and assisting them to maintain control over their personal details. And the way in which it is going to affect you as a business is through how you collect customer data.

Soft Opt-Ins on Their Way Out

As we mentioned, currently the system works around soft opt-ins. This basically means customers opt in to receiving marketing materials from you by default, unless they select an opt-out checkbox somewhere along the line if they do not wish to be contacted. Now, under the 2015 rules, businesses will be required to obtain explicit permission before they’re allowed to store or use any personal data. So the default will now be opt-out, rather than opt-in.

So if you deal with consumers, you’ve got a task to fulfil, and that is a complete re-design of all your data capture forms. Now you’ll have to make sure the opt-in checkbox is deselected by default. You can only have one single opt-in checkbox for the customer to fill in if they choose, and it must be accompanied by clear wording that explains how you intend to store and use their details. Any underhand ways of trying to conceal checkboxes will be outlawed.

Check Your Marketing Lists

If you use data lists to market to prospects or customers then you will, under the new directive, be required to ensure these are compliant in respect of having obtained opt-in permissions. Whether you create your own organic lists, or buy them in, this responsibility lies with you as the business owner. Substantial financial penalties could result if you fail to comply.

Rounding up the New Rules

Rounding up, the 2015 directive will require you to always obtain opt-in consent before you can store, use or process customer details. You can no longer assume opt-ins just because you’ve done or negotiated business. Any information you provide about how you will use data must be clear and you must not contact anyone who hasn’t expressly opted in to your communications.

It’s not law yet, but it will be soon. So NOW is the time to prepare.

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