The consultation period for proposed changes to the European Data Protection Regulations now has only 4 months to run. I wrote on the potential impact of these proposals previously, demonstrating that in Europe Direct Marketing stands to lose approximately £350 billion per annum if implemented.
Despite efforts to raise awareness, as an industry we still appear to be sleepwalking toward disaster. In recent research by DMA (UK) 60% of senior managers at brand, agencies and suppliers responded that they're 'not aware' of the possible impact of the Regulation on what they do.” To increase awareness, the DMA hosted an event on 08th February 2013, and I’ve summarised the key talking points.
Firstly, it’s probably not surprising that we have reached this point. Richard Beaumont (Head of Service Development at Cookie Collective LLP) quoted the following:
However, in his keynote address the Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, said that the proposals are over-prescriptive. This is partly because unlike in the US where data protection is a consumer issue, in the EU it is a human rights issue. His key thoughts were:
Mathilde Fiquet (EU Legal Affairs Advisor, FEDMA) and Caroline Roberts (Director of Public Affairs, DMA UK) considered the potential impact of the proposals. They recognised the existing legislation is outdated – it wasn’t designed for an online world, and there have been serious inconsistencies in the way it has been implemented across the EU. Nonetheless, the proposed revisions have major implications for DM practitioners:
All of these points have significant implications for email marketing. While they will certainly provide consumers with greater protection of their personal data, email program effectiveness could be significantly compromised. For example:
At a broader level, FEDMA and the DMA concur, saying a fairer balance is required. They believe that in their current form the new proposals will stifle innovation, increase costs, and present unnecessary obstacles to growth – particularly for SMEs. They have been lobbying the government with the following messages:
These efforts have clearly had some success, because the UK government has stated it would like to see a more risk-based approach, with less prescription, greater scope for self-regulation, and some exemptions for SMEs. The Ministry of Justice also takes issue with the EU Commission’s estimated savings of €2.3 billion, arguing the changes will actually introduce additional costs to businesses.
Chris Combemale, Executive Director of the DMA, concluded with a rallying call for all DM stakeholders to lobby their MPs and Euro MPs to ensure their voices are heard. The DMA has prepared a lobbying toolkit. In using it he provided the following advice:
Return Path’s own Richard Gibson¸ current chairman of the DMA’s Email Marketing Council, added ““To anyone that was in attendance at this event The Information Commissioner made it very clear in terms of changing perceptions with the legislators; compliance is the way to go and not defiance, which is why the campaign and the rallying cry from the DMA is all the more imperative”.