GDPR – Comms disaster of the decade?

Opt-in or opt-out, despite the deadline now having passed for businesses to clean up their processes with regard to storing and using personal data, plenty of firms still don’t seem to know what the changes are all about. An embarrassing failure for the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office, tasked with ensuring Britain was up to speed.

Understatement of the century, the way in which the details have been explained and new regulations laid out has been nothing short of disgraceful. Not least as this left a void which has been filled by millions of self-declared experts peddling misinformation about what GDPR really means for everyone.

Few can deny that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)  rolled out by the European Union is a good idea in principle. The public deserves to have more control over who has access to private information, and how that information is accessed. We all deserve more peace of mind.

From the perspective of a company, GDPR offers an opportunity for a hard reboot. Implementing the requirements may have required planning, preparation and time most of us didn’t have to spare. But then having a database of contacts who actually want to hear about your latest offers, deals and in-house news should prove beneficial in the long run. Wheat separated from chaff, so to speak, potentially increasing engagement and conversion levels.

 

The reality of the situation has been anything but a smooth transition, though. Confused SMEs, businesses needlessly deleting 1000s of email addresses, and every inbox in the UK getting clogged up with emails asking recipients to ‘keep in touch’. Of those emails around 50% sent my way were looking for a response to confirm I wanted to continue receiving updates. That the remainder stated that no response was needed if I was happy to stay in the mailing list smacks of inconsistency.

The fact those supposedly in charge of helping us become compliant are supposedly media and digital specialists— the aforementioned ICO– raises serious questions about their suitability for the role. They categorically failed to hold up their side of the bargain, so can we rely on them to be proficient and efficient in other areas of information and comms?

Next month the European Parliament will vote on new reforms to the bloc’s copyright laws, which may result in increased censorship, mandatory filtering and so-called ‘link taxes’. My only hope is that if the amendments are passed we have more clarity in the run up to fresh regulations being introduced to safeguard against a repeat of the GDPR catastrophe, which has been actioned in a way that makes Westminster debates look calm and collected.

They need to do better, so you can do better, but sadly I’m not convinced they will.

Read our guide to earned media