EU Data Protection Regulation – The Right to be Forgotten

Continuing with our series of posts reviewing the potential effects of the proposed EU Data Protection Regulation, one of the areas it addresses is an individual’s “right to be forgotten” by a business.  The specific wording is as follows:

“The data subject shall have the right to obtain from the controller the erasure of personal data relating to them and the abstention from further dissemination of such data”

This has clearly been written with Social Media in mind, for example, ensuring that Facebook users are able to completely delete their profiles if they so wish.  However, the effect on email marketers and direct marketers in general could be disastrous.  If somebody unsubscribes, or asks to no longer receive an advertiser’s communications, then clearly that individual’s details need to be held by the organisation in order to suppress them from future comms.  Forgetting them completely, i.e. erasing all their data could have the polar opposite effect from that which the consumer is expecting!  A individuals details need to be held in order for the organisation to “remember to forget”.  Also, industry suppression files, which are there to benefit consumers, could be put at risk by the Regulation.

The problems do not end there.  There would also be an issue with information that has already been passed on to third parties, e.g. via list brokers or through partnerships.  Also, consumers risk being mis-led.  For example, some data in financial services has to be kept for a specific period of time in order to meet with legal and FSA regulations.

In summary, not only does this section of the Regulation risk failing to achieve what it sets out to do, it could also damage consumer trust and increase the complexity and volume of data processing which needlessly increases the financial burden on companies.

This entry was posted in Best Practice, Data Management, Legislation, News, Permission, Social Media on by .
Rupert Harrison

About Rupert Harrison

Rupert provides in depth CRM, Social Media and Data Strategy, which feeds into multi-channel communications plans covering acquisition, retention and on going brand engagement for POSSIBLE (A WPP Digital Agency).

Rupert has 15 years’ experience in Relationship Marketing, Strategy and Data, spanning supplier, client and, of course, agency roles. Prior to joining POSSIBLE, Rupert headed up the data strategy team for EA Games at TBWA\London, having pitched for and won the Pan-European and APAC Social Media and CRM account. He has also worked client side managing Data and CRM Strategy at News International, and previously managed the BT Retail account at Zed Media (part of Zenith Optimedia).

This year, Rupert has been selected to judge the Best Customer Journey category at the DMA Awards. Following a period of co-option, Rupert was elected to the Email Marketing Council in January 2006 and was Chair of the Best Practice, Data & Legal Hub for 3 years. Rupert currently leads the Council’s Client Hub.

  • Steve Henderson

    This has not just been designed for social media, but for people entrusting organisations with their personal, address, financial and payment details when making online purchases. It is not appropriate for a consumer to have to trust an online retailer to remove those details when they are no longer reasonably needed. Instead, the right to be forgotten also encompases being able to purchase anonymously; being able to make a one-off purchase without creating an account or having your details saved; and being able to easily request that all of your personal and payment details are removed.