Hitting the reset button

Hitting the reset button

All businesses which email their clients will need to be ready for GDPR which will replace the Data Protection Act of 1998. Wetherspoons is! It’s a first for me to mention a pub chain in this blog and probably surprising that it’s a positive mention! A few months ago, Wetherspoons disposed of its entire email marketing list. Why is this significant? Because, at a stroke, Wetherspoons demonstrated that it was both cognisant of the GDPR rules and ready to be compliant.

Why would the pub chain want to get rid of the 700,000 email addresses on its marketing list? Because it could not prove that those people consented to receiving for marketing purposes. The GDPR means that anyone receiving your emails must have given unambiguous affirmative consent.

A spokesperson for Wetherspoon is quoted in an article in Marketing Week as saying: “The less customer information we have, which is now almost none, then the less risk associated with data.”

I think this is an impressive stance to take. As an orthodontic practice, however, I don’t have any choice but to hold the data of my patients. Our newsletters have been going out to patients and to referring dentists for at least two years now and they can unsubscribe at any time. Nevertheless, in order to become compliant with the GDPR, I need to acquire unambiguous, affirmative consent from all the people on my database if I am to continue sending them the newsletter. This will mean that anyone who does not positively assent to receiving the newsletter, will not be included in the future.

The Office of the Information Commissioner already enforces the Data Protection Act. Earlier this year, the budget airline Flybe was fined £70k after it sent 33m emails asking the recipients if their details were correct. These were all people who had opted out of marketing emails. The Office of the Information Commissioner is likely to be equally as vigilant with GDPR and any breach will lead to a significantly higher fine.

D-day for GDPR is May 25th. The government has confirmed that the UK’s decision to leave the EU will not make a difference to the introduction of GDPR.

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