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You say yes, I say no, you say stop and I say go go go…

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Hands up everyone who is fed up with receiving GDPR mailers asking them to opt in to keep on receiving the latest updates from that café you visited once in London/the elf’n’safety website you didn’t realise you’d clicked on/your partner’s 300 online shopping and/or betting accounts, etc.?

Yes, thought so.  Just about everybody.  Correction: absolutely everybody.  

For months our inboxes have been awash with white papers, go-to meetings, webinars and a host of other guides to the GDPR maze, while small charities, youth groups and old ladies keep-fit clubs have been losing sleep wondering what this means for them.   

Remember Y2K? Those who went to their beds early on 31stDecember 1999 and did nothing about the millennium bug were grinning like Cheshire cats the next day, while those who sat past midnight, crossing their fingers and praying their IT wouldn’t crash just got very tired and rather cross that they’d called it wrong.  The difference is that Y2K might have brought your IT down but we didn’t really know until the time.  In contrast, GDPR will, if you get it wrong, result in a very large fine.

At Peace, we’ve taken a sensible approach, communicating with everyone on our databases, deleting those who no longer want updates on our jobs and news. Others have taken an even more careful approach but a few have been far more relaxed, assuming (hopefully correctly) that the ICO will be too busy to catch them if they have messed it up.

The problem, as I see it, is that while GDPR is about trying to do the right thing, it doesn’t seem particularly well thought through in places and, moreover, it’s costing businesses wads of cash in terms of staff time and the money required to ensure that communications are compliant.  

As the deadline approaches, the number of mailers begging you not to cast the sender into the outer darkness has grown exponentially. However, there does not seem to be any consistency in the form these mailers take. Some, often from big organisations with whom you actually need to stay connected, are hugely detailed, as if trying to bludgeon the recipient into just ticking the box.  Others are short and to the point. Some try humour (“you’ll be sick of getting these, but please do read ours!”) but as the profits at Mailchimp go into overdrive over the next 24 hours, I rather suspect the numbers of recipients just deleting each additional mailer without even reading it will grow and grow…

Then, we’ll all be left with databases that contain about a dozen people and we can just send them a nice letter.  But to be fair, getting rid of all the dross on zillions of mailing/marketing lists is one of the objectives of GDPR and one I support as it will force companies to re-create databases that are genuinely valuable and contain only those who want to work with them. And the really good news is that it will all be over soon … until the first prosecutions (hopefully of that telesales company that’s always calling my house at 9.30 pm) begin…

Chris Peace, MD, Peace Recruitment


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