Who (And Why) is Fearmongering On GDPR

Piotr Zaniewicz in

Blog/Who (And Why) is Fearmongering On GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR in short, which becomes enforceable on 28 May 2018, has been intended to work to the advantage of regular individuals and their personal data available online within the EU. Companies not compliant with the regulation may face heavy fines. Should you be worried, then? How will the new policy impact your various marketing operations, including cold email campaigns? Keep on reading as I address these issues in an attempt to put your mind at rest.

We’ve seen a lot of commotion recently regarding GDPR. Companies we work with have been trying to figure out if there’s any particular action they need to take, or if the new regulation will force them to adjust their marketing activities.

There is one other important aspect to the issue, but we’ll get it later. First things first.

What is GDPR?

It feels like the acronym has become a buzzword as we approach the date when the new regulation will become applicable. Not that many people, as it seems, understand what it is all about, though.

The General Data Protection Regulation introduces a major change to the data privacy policy prevalent in the EU member states, dictated by the increasingly data-driven world we live in.

Now, while the key principles of the previous regulation still hold true, here’s what’s new as far as GDPR is concerned:

  • the regulation applies to all companies processing data of EU residents, regardless of the company’s location
  • a tiered system of fines, depending on the seriousness of a violation
  • the request for data processing consent must be presented in a clear and easily understandable manner; being able to withdraw consent must be as easy as it is to give it

These are the three main areas of concern for businesses, which leads us to the closely related issue I mentioned earlier.

Interpretation of GDPR

Having a certain law in written form is one thing, enacting it in the real world is another. It’ll be up to local courts of the member states to interpret the regulation. There’s no statutory interpretation available yet, and there’s also no need for you to worry about it in advance.

That said, ignorance has always been an opportunity for someone to make money off of. The introduction of GDPR creates room for various audit-running companies to instill fear of fines based on extremely restrictive interpretation of the new regulation, which simply doesn’t make much sense.

If the rules were to be observed too closely, it would bring business in Europe to a halt in times when it’s absolutely crucial to be able to reach out to someone who doesn’t necessarily expect it. Companies simply have to be able to communicate with new potential partners and clients at a distance.

What is GDPR really about, then?

The new General Data Protection Regulation puts extra emphasis on protection of sensitive data such as individual’s legal and marital status, sexual orientation, remuneration, medical history, etc.

On the other hand, if you have your business email address listed on the company website, then contacting you for business inquiries is well within the law – this isn’t spam at all. If someone else is running a small company, has no business address, and only lists his private email, then he also gives somewhat of a consent to be contacted.

The regulation isn’t an attempt at making it harder for businesses to contact other businesses using publicly data available online, but rather at protecting individuals from having their deeply personal details overprocessed and used for questionable purposes.

Conclusion

All in all, it’s safe to say you’ll still be able to send cold emails to legitimately acquired addresses without having to worry about being fined. In this day and age, people may not always be very enthusiastic about receiving commercial messages, but they’re very much expected and somewhat accepted.

If you have no shady intentions and use only details that are readily available online, there’s no risk of being fined. Get familiar with GDPR and take the word of companies trying to scare you into spending on their services with a grain of salt.

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Piotr Zaniewicz

Founder and CEO at RightHello. Believes that the most important validation of business ideas is to find paying clients. That’s when you know you’re going in the right direction.

  • Media 9

    Does this now mean email campaigns will be mostly restricted to info@, admin@, sales@ etc… as these are mostly the ‘legitimately acquired addresses’ to be found on business websites. The use of name@ will require consent after the first email – or is my interpretation incorrect?