London MEP Visits Telemarketing Company to Discuss Impact of New EU Data Regulation on Direct Marketing

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SCi Sales Group, the leading UK telemarketing company, invited Sarah Ludford, Liberal Democrat MEP for London, to discuss the new EU Data Regulation and its impact on direct marketing. The Regulation requires customers to 'opt-in' for direct marketing, creates a new 'right to be forgotten' and classifies IP addresses as personal data. A PowerPoint presentation titled "Become an expert on the new EU Data Regulation in just 10 minutes" is available at http://www.scisalesgroup.com/knowledge/packaged-presentations

SCi Sales Group (SCi) invited Baroness Ludford MEP to witness first-hand how business-to-business (B2B) data is managed by UK telemarketing agencies and discuss the impact of the new EU Data Regulation.

Sarah Ludford is a lead member of the European Parliament’s civil liberties, justice and human rights committee, and shares SCi’s desire to ensure the proposed Regulation balances the needs of both consumers and commerce.

The Regulation is intended to protect individuals with regard to the processing and movement of personal data. As such, it will affect the direct marketing industry, placing new constraints and obligations on how companies acquire and process personal information.

Graham Smith, Marketing Director at SCi and member of the DMA’s Telemarketing Council, is keen to highlight potential flaws in the Regulation. He believes personal data could be interpreted to include personal work email addresses, direct lines and company mobile telephones. The Regulation stipulates that such personal data can only be collected and stored if you have ‘express consent’ from the individual.

Graham commented “We support greater uniformity across Europe on the subject of Data Protection, but feel the Regulation fails to understand the difference between B2B and B2C data. In addition, the phrase ‘express consent’ is open to interpretation. We are perhaps being set-up to fail.”

SCi believes that business-to-business (B2B) purchases and behaviour should not be considered as personal data, and therefore should be treated differently under the Regulation.

Graham explained “If I purchase a camera for myself it reveals information about my personal disposable income, my personal brand preference and my personal shopping habits. If I purchase a camera for my company it reveals information about my company’s preferences, but nothing about me.”

SCi are also seeking clarification on what is meant by express consent. The Regulation states companies must obtain express consent through ‘clear statement or affirmative action’, but gives no practical advice on what form that should take. Is agreeing to receive a newsletter during a sales call express consent, or would customers need to email their consent as proof?

The Regulation also outlines a new ‘right to be forgotten’, which would force companies to remove all record of a person if they make a request. Graham highlighted a potential flaw “A customer may choose to be ‘forgotten’ by British Gas. Then a year later request to receive information from all gas suppliers. But we cannot prevent them getting British Gas information because we’ve been told to forget them.”

Furthermore, IP addresses would be classified as personal information under the new law. This may mean that web analytics would no longer be available to Marketing Managers, and buyers would get a less personal experience when visiting websites.

Sarah Ludford listened to the issues raised by SCi and agreed there needed to be a balance between consumer and commercial interests. She commented “I welcome the new Regulation because it heralds much greater enforcement powers for national regulators, with bigger fines. It also aims to change the mindset of bodies processing personal data from formal box-ticking coupled with careless practice, to responsible and accountable stewardship.

“However, a balance has to be struck between protecting personal data while not burdening UK firms with over-prescriptive laws.”

SCi intends to continue the dialogue with Sarah Ludford, as well as the Information Commissioners Office and Ministry of Justice, to highlight flaws and areas for improvement in the new Data Regulation.

The company have produced a PowerPoint presentation for managers wishing to understand the impact of the new Regulation on direct marketing. It can be downloaded from the SCi website at http://www.scisalesgroup.com/knowledge/packaged-presentations

About SCi Sales Group Ltd
Established in 2002, SCi Sales Group began life as a B2B telemarketing agency and grew to become a leading sales acceleration specialist. The core of the company’s service is still telemarketing, but it has added other offline/online marketing tools to its portfolio.

Clients range from enterprise multi-nationals such as eBay, 3M and Oracle to SMEs and start-up companies. SCi’s marketing services extend beyond the UK and Ireland to include Europe, North America and Australasia.

About Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP
Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP has been a Member of the European Parliament, representing London, since 1999. A senior member of the European Parliament civil liberties, justice & home affairs committee, she has taken a leading role in formulation of EU cooperation measures on crime, terrorism and data exchange but also on data protection and civil liberties safeguards.

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