— blending the mix

Inbox-Outbox 2007 – The ICO

I attended Inbox-Outbox this year to keep track of everything that was happening in the world of email marketing. Short of giving you a full run-down of everything that was said, I have put down some of my thoughts and most interesting observations.

After the unfortunate collapsing into deliriousness of conference keynote speaker Sara Radicati, the first session started earlier than expected with Dave Evans, Senior Compliance Partner of the ICO. Dave’s session covered Developments in Data Protection and Email Legislation. So here goes…

According to the ICO, the protection of our personal details is now the British Public’s 2nd most important worry.

What are your current biggest worries?

  2006 2007
Crime 93 94
Protection of Personal Details 83 92
NHS 90 91
Equal Rights 85 89
National Security 82 89
Education 81 88

Table 1: British Public’s most prominent concerns2006 vs 2007

So who would have thought that the protection of personal details remained so important, yet people willingly give this sort of stuff out willy-nilly on social network sites?!

What concerns the same people most about their personal details?

Passing to unknown organisations 94
Not keeping information secure 94
Unwanted marketing messages 87
Inaccurate information 87
Request too much information 88
Holding data for too long 84

Table 2: British Public’s most serious data protection concerns

So what are the main reasons for these concerns – why do marketers get it wrong?

  • Out of date consents – people have changed their preferences
  • Old lists – just simply old data doing the same old rounds
  • Failing to act on opt-outs
  • Un-related sells. Horoscope subscribers being sold insurance does NOT work

And what are the implications?

  • Watchdog effect – press and tv always eager to pounce on a good story
  • Increased customer caution – registration with TPS and MPS are at all-time highs
  • The gap between "spam" and marketing messages is narrowing
  • People will simply bin what they consider to be spam

Tips on how to get it right:

  • Don’t surprise people
  • Be open about your intentions
  • Don’t lead people to think you are hiding something
  • Make complaining and unsubscribing easy – better to have an uninterested person drop out than waste your time.

Interesting : Of the 100k complaints, the ICO receive each year, 33% are regarding email.

So what are the new developments?

A revised EU framework of:

  • Enforcement
  • Security
  • Breach notification (forced disclosure to authorities and public of security breaches)

Bluetooth Legislation:

  • Currently, there is currently no legislation in place governing the use of bluetooth (opportunity or a disaster waiting to happen??)

Social Networks:

  • Current legislation covers most Social Networks, although US-based Facebook (whose approach to privacy and data capture is very different to most other networks) is meeting with the ICO to ensure that all UK data protection and privacy issues are addressed.
  • A precedent has been set though with eBay.co.uk considering itself to be governed under UK law.
  • Dave has promised to keep me updated with all these changes to ensure we, as an agency are working within the (new) guidelines.
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