The Information Commissioner’s Office has, presumably under instruction, accepted that those companies with personal data are experiencing significant difficulties during the lockdown; and none more so than us in email marketing. It promises to approach the law with all the flexibility allowed, and that it will concentrate on the greatest threats.
It’s not a carte blanche. It, quite rightly, points out that many businesses are facing acute financial pressures, and goes on to say that the law is not an obstacle to their taking a flexible approach. It then damages the atmosphere it’s created by mentioning serving mankind, but we can forgive one unfortunate slip. Let’s hope they will.
The ICO has produced a downloadable pdf in which it explains, in the easily understood English we’ve come to expect in their publications, their approach to regulations. It is well worth reading.
There’s a fair bit of ‘we will’, which might, at first reading, appear nothing more than self-aggrandisement, but stick with it. It states, for instance, under the heading of Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations, that the current situation could have an impact on, for example, how quickly we might respond to an FOI request. Given the information we have in our email marketing lists, such requests may become more frequent.
There’s a recommendation, a requirement in all but name, that appropriate measures will be taken to record any such decisions, and that it be available at the conclusion of the emergency. This is probably the most significant pronouncement in the pdf. It tells us that while it will accept delays, the normal requirement for reasons for a course of action will remain.
It is saying, and unambiguously, that there’s a limit to the lowering of certain requirements, such as timing, but that you need to be able to justify every such change from normal practice. It concludes with the statement that ‘flexibility will continue to be necessary in some areas for many months to come.’ This isn’t short term.
As the ICO has stated, a number of times, it will continue to provide advice on compliance with the law. They have a helpful helpline.