Rarely has so much pleading email been sent out. “We’d love to keep in touch with you.” “IMPORTANT: last chance to update your settings!” “We want to hear from you… So you can hear from us!”
Why all the wheedling?
Today — Friday 25 May — data protection rules in the European Union (of which Britain is still a part) are changing. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect and it has sent companies scrambling.
An organisation cannot process any personal data unless it is done under lawful circumstances specified by the regulation, or if the organisation has received explicit, opt-in consent from the owner of the data; you. Hence, everyone’s making sure that this time you really have opted in. After all, we’ve all bought something, stayed somewhere, or booked something, then found ourselves added to a company’s mailing list for evermore.
Today, evermore is over.
The changes in data protection laws mean your consent to receive these marketing emails must be explicit. Hence all the pleas for you to re-opt in before today.
Some companies are straightforwardly offering bribes in the hope you will press that little opt-in button.
OPT IN TO WIN!
You could win dinner! (Prize does not include beverages.) You could win skincare! You could win a chance to enter a prize draw!
All of these companies are apparently pepped up about privacy, too. “We’re committed to protecting your privacy.” “We take your privacy very seriously.” “Your information is precious. We will always take good care of it.”
This is because the GDPR means that business processes that handle personal data must be built with privacy by design and by default. This means that your personal data must not be available publicly without your explicit consent, and cannot be used to identify you without additional information stored separately.
I — and many others — have seen the arrival of GDPR as an easy way to clear our inboxes of mails whose relevance may have ceased years ago. No, not even the lure of a free dinner with paid-for beverages will lure our fingers to the opt-in button. Small businesses wring their hands as the email marketing lists they have cultivated for decades are winnowed to a few per cent of what they were.
From today, however, opt-in to win (!) will be a thing of the past. One email fewer? That’s surely got to be a good thing.