The European Union (EU) unveiled a series of proposals on November 4, 2010, that significantly revise its notorious Data Protection Directive. The changes could conceivably impact email marketers with subscribers in any of the EU's 27 member countries.
"The Right To Be Forgotten" Also Applies To Email Subscribers
The essence of the EU's new legislation was covered about a month ago in "Cookie Monster: How The New EU Regulations Impact Email Marketers". Since that time, the EU's introduced new proposals that include a regulation that can be summed up as "the right to be forgotten." The legislation is directly crafted to apply primarily to social networks such as Facebook where the EU laws would require a simple, bold button that would indelibly and permanently erase all of the user's data from the site. This would allow the user to effectively delete any signs of their previous presence on the site when they quit the network.
You May Have to Delete All of a Subscriber's Personal Data
These new regulations impact email marketers as well in that they apply to any customer data held by businesses. It seems as if the EU is heading towards mandating a similarly simple and bold button on each of your outgoing emails that would allow the European customer to not only unsubscribe, but ensure that all of their personal data that is held by you is to be deleted from all of your systems. How the EU would enforce such a mandate on companies that are registered in the United States and have the data on servers outside the EU is not yet clear.
These Rules Will Apply Right Across All 27 EU Member Nations
To date, the EU's various data protection regulations have been implemented in a haphazard manner across the member states. Some countries have chosen to implement modified versions of the laws, while others have not enforced any of them. Many email marketers have not taken this legislation seriously due to the internal discrepancies in its international administration. The EU has taken steps to close those loopholes and thus force its member states to homogenously adopt the rules. The EU's latest revisions address those inconsistencies with a clear statement that these regulations will mark a "consistent application of data protection rules across the Single Market."
Voluminous Legal "Consumer Information" Text On Your Signup Forms
The EU's revisions also include legislation so that "collection and use of personal data is limited to the minimum necessary. Individuals should also be clearly informed in a transparent way on how, why, by whom, and for how long their data is collected and used." These clauses take the EU's regulations beyond any existing laws, as the definition of the information that must be provided to all subscribers upon signup is significantly more extensive than any currently contemplated. This could equate to having to include voluminous legal "consumer information" text on your signup forms accessible to all of your European customers.
The EU's review process for its data protection regulations will end on January 15, 2011, and the laws may implemented as early as just a couple of months later. These developments bear close scrutiny by any email marketer with subscribers within the EU's member nations, as the fines for violation could be considerable.