The European Union (EU) has agreed to new regulations for data sharing and protection. The EU passed the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) this week, and now member states have two years to comply with the regulation and incorporate the GDPR into their own national laws.
Email marketers have until March 2018 to comply with the new email and data protection laws since the new regulation will also affect anyone sending emails to or from subscribers residing in member states of the European Union.
It’s important that email marketers are aware of how the law will affect their work, especially considering how the European Union’s population currently is estimated to be over 500 million citizens.
The European Commission first suggested data protection reform in January 2012 and the finalized reform bill consists of two main regulations: the General Data Protection Regulation and Data Protection Directive.
The Data Protection Directive is meant to safeguard the data of crime victims, witnesses and suspects, and facilitates cross-border criminal justice cooperation across member states.
Complying with the GDPR will likely be more difficult for marketers as it enables EU citizens to “better control their personal data,” the European Commission stated in a press release. “At the same time modernised and unified rules will allow businesses to make the most of the opportunities of the Digital Single Market by cutting red tape and benefiting from reinforced consumer trust.”
Not only will Europeans have the right to access their own data, but they also have the right to be forgotten. If a consumer does not want their data to be processed, and there are no criminal grounds for keeping it, a company must delete that individual’s data.
Considering how personalized marketing is data-driven, this could hinder many marketing campaigns.
The GDPR will becomes a EU-wide regulations for data sharing, but it becomes important for marketers to know the 28 member states of the European Union because not every European country is a member. Current members include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom (UK).
Some members, such as the UK, are actively investigating whether to leave the European Union altogether so there is a chance the list of member states will change within the next two years.
Brad van der Woerd, director of intelligence products for Yesmail, says that transparency will be the easiest way for email marketers to comply with the regulations.
“Email marketers must strive to be as transparent as possible with their campaigns”, van der Woerd says. “They should provide users with straightforward and accessible ways to opt in or out of promotional emails. This could be as simple as allowing consumers to check ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to receive future emails. Most importantly, marketers must also be transparent about data, including what kinds of data they are storing and where they are storing it.”
Business that fail to comply with the new regulations can be fined up to 4% of global sales, meaning larger companies could potentially face billions in fines.