The question on whether the UK will adopt Brussel’s EU data law (GDPR) following Brexit has just got more complicated with government ordering a complete review of direct marketing rules.
Parliament has now approved the first reading of the Digital Economy Bill that will instruct the Information Commissioner to prepare a code of practice on direct marketing with a clear instruction that relevant parties must be consulted.
In addition, Minister of State at the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, Baroness Neville Rolfe, has called for contributions in shaping the future of data regulation by declaring that she is ’very much in listening mode’.
The minister has stated there can be no way of knowing whether or not GDPR is likely to apply to the UK until trade negotiations with the EU begin. Given that the government has also not decided its timetable to establish its bargaining position with Brussels it means it is now not possible to speculate about EU influence on data regulation change, or possible timing.
With the Digital Economy Bill being sponsored by government itself, and written into the Queens Speech, it is likely to come into law far more quickly than the conclusion of EU trade talks relating to data regulation, with the additional possibility of the Information Commissioner deciding new direct marketing rules before negotiators have finished their job.
Although the future of data regulation is likely hang in the air for some time the situation does present an opportunity for all parties to review all relevant rules. This would be the first strategic examination of rules on all aspects of sales and marketing data.
Such a review, which matches Baroness Neville Rolfe’s intentions and government policy, could include all elements of commercial communication, including the Telephone Preference Service, which is showing increasing signs that it is past its sell by date at being 20 years old - half its files are dead and it has far more registrations than there are active telephone numbers in the UK . More important, it is not effective in stopping increasing public concern about ‘nuisance’ calls.
A review of regulation could also include those of the Ministry of Justice, Advertising Standards Authority and Committee of Advertising Practice, to ensure that in future rules do not overlap and contradict each other. Clashes of authority boundaries currently put companies in an unfair situation in which they may have to decide which rules to break based on which regulatory authority is likely to hand out the least severe punishment.
Although it is not possible for sales departments to plan ahead for data compliance there is the possibility that future regulation may be seamless for the first time.
By Dene Walsh, Operations and Compliance Director Verso Group, premier multi-channel lead generation and data provider delivering high quality, high impact sales leads that convert with velocity and ROI.