2016 has been a momentous year for the UK. What is more, it is likely that it will be talked of, have books written about it, and be the subject of many a thesis over the next few years. We used to segment history by way of the surnames of our monarchs. Can there be any doubt that UK history will be divided into pre and post Brexit eras? By way of confirmation, I’ve added Brexit to my spell-checker dictionary.
Many commentators seem to be suggesting that businesses will be freer of restrictive legislation in the future. It is a pleasant dream for some but, even if true, cannot go for email marketing, and other forms of online trading, except, of course, for those companies which wish to turn their backs on trading with what remains of the EU.
We will cover what is to come for 2017 in the near future, most importantly, as least so far, being the Digital Economy Bill which is about to enter the Committee Stage in the House of Lords so heading for the Royal Assent in the near future. As a taster we can assume that there will be more of the same with regards changes, so it pays to have a review of the recent incidents.
One of the most remarkable occurrences in 2016 was the destruction of The Privacy Shield. Whilst there were confident sounding assurance from various quarters that everything was perfect and the challenge would soon be satisfied, the challenge to the USA’s regulations, or lack of them, with regards seemingly free and ongoing access to private electronic correspondence was too high a hurdle.
Safe Harbour was the compromise deal but it was being heavily criticised before agreement. It seems doubtful that the new President will challenge the pressure from the various security agencies and limit surveillance to any meaningful degree.
We have had a new Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham. She took up her post in July with very little speculation preceding her. She hails from Canada and many people in email marketing had not hear of her before the appointment. I include myself in that group.
She made a speech in September pointing out that Brexit had put much into a state of flux but on some matters she was firm.
She said: ". . . I do not believe data protection law is standing in the way of your success." She went on to make her views of the General Data Protection Regulations clear, ”. . . the GDPR will be something you’ll have to follow, to do business where you want to.”
In other words, if you want to sell things to the EU, you will have to conform. It may be a coincidence, but her appointment heralded an increase in prosecutions and penalties.
I receive information regarding regulators across the EU and this increase in energy with regards to enforcement and investigation is not unique to the ICO. The Netherlands, Germany and France are frequent subjects of such reports.
2016 might well have been a turning point in all things email marketing, one that will be referred to in years to come. You’ve survived so far. We will suggest ways you can prosper in future articles.