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Monkeying around GDPR

12 June 2018 - Rosemary French OBE

Like everyone else, my inbox is full to bursting with General Data Protection Regulations opt in requests, better known as GDPR.

Indeed, I have had to send out my own Opt In e mail, apparently to avoid a fine up to €10m or 4% of turnover. The whole thing has become such a bonanza for those companies offering paid services to organise it for you.  Reminds me of the Millennium Bug although we do not have to fill the bath with water.  Or do we?  Who knows? The legislation is such a confusing minefield resulting in misinformation and the good old British solution of just ‘belt and bracing’ everything just in case!  I can just hear the Spanish saying ‘Manyana’, the Italians throwing their hands in the air and the Germans saying, ‘we have already done it’!  

What is interesting is watching the different approaches everyone is taking having taken differing advice. My favourite is from a company, that got rather personal asking me to click ‘I love you! Please continue to send me emails.’ Seriously? Or if I want to be unfaithful, I have the choice to opt out with ‘Please just stop, I can't take it anymore!’.  This is not a fun company but is from a serious business! But it did make me respond immediately and I am hoping for a date soon!

I understand the concept of ‘legitimacy’ in GDPR.   An organisation must prove it has a right to contact people.   But if I have signed up and paid my subscription to a membership organisation, surely that is clear legitimacy and I do not need to receive an instruction to opt in?  And why did my doctor ask me to opt in?  If I do not opt in, does that mean I lose access to the NHS?  And another one is my bank who should be more worried about its IT problems rather than sending me an email that says, ‘But without your permission, we can’t get in touch with you.’  Really?  I have entrusted my money to you. Surely that is legitimacy?

I like the simple e mails that only ask you to respond Yes by return.  No boxes to tick.  Brilliant.  I also like those that are automatically filled in for you and all you must do is click the opt in box.  I used that method in my own opt in e mail.  And yet I am still getting e mails from organisations which should know better asking me to punch in every detail almost down to leg measurement!  And when I think that ‘well I do not want to give you that much detail’, I discover the boxes are red starred and must be filled in.  Is this not uncalled for data collection which rather spoils the reason of GDPR? So, I do not finish those and think ‘stuff it’.

My final bugbear is those at the end of some emails which insist on checking whether I am a human.  I know what they are trying to do but their wording is so unfortunate.  ‘Before we subscribe you, we need to confirm you are a human.’ Why not just say ‘To avoid spam emails please tick this box’ or similar? The whole point of building a successful mailing list is to engage subscribers who want to hear from you, not to be insulted.   Not for them to question whether you are a bot or an animal.  Particularly pertinent when it is Mail Chimp sending most Opt In requests!

First published in Last Word, South East Business Magazine June/ July edition 2018

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