Email and the Law

Always Look On The Bright Side

You can normally find something positive to say when there are legislative changes for email marketing. However, you know you are struggling a bit when the best you can come up with is that it is not as bad as we feared.

Earlier this month the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of the less business-friendly amendment to the Data Protection Regulation proposed by the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE). Further, the wording is open to misinterpretation, which is dangerous, and there are conflicts between the wording of the amendment and the rest of the draft Regulation, which is unforgivable.

Much has been made of the substantial increase in maximum penalty: €100m (£85m) or 5% of a company's annual worldwide turnover, whichever is greater. You can probably see why. Given our tight margins, such penalties are frightening.

One good point is that there is every likelihood the Regulations will not become law before 2017, and probably late into the year at that. Further, both Cameron and Merkel have expressed concerns, although they are not unified as to what needs to be changed.

Whilst the UK PM has expressed concerns with regard to artificial deadlines limiting time needed for the wording to be clarified, as well as the risk of higher costs to businesses, the Chancellor comes from a different direction. German consumer law gives more rights to their citizens and she does not want these eroded so is pushing for homogenisation between the two.

Currently there are, in effect, three versions of the regulations: the original one put forward by the European Commission, the amended version favoured by the European Parliament and that of the Council of Ministers. Theses groups will discuss matters to arrive at an agreed format.

In the meantime there are some steps we can take to ensure we are ready for whatever the decision is.

There are few who doubt that the increased requirement for data controllers will remain and now is the time to ensure that your procedures conform to current regulations. Secondly, if you can put pressure on the movers and shakers to ensure that business interests are taken into consideration, then now is the time to do so.



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