What is “personal Information” according to the draft EU Data Protection Regulation?

In order to keep up with new technologies and addressing consumer concerns over privacy the 1995 European Data Protection Directive, which was implemented in UK in the 1998 Data Protection Act is in the process of being updated. This can be a good thing because aside from anything else it aims to reduce the red tape, and add more consistency across Europe. However, the draft proposals are missing the mark and not going to meet the objectives unless some additions and changes are made.

The definition of “personal data” is one example of this; it is proposed to be extended so it could cover some IP addresses and cookies;

“a natural person who can be identified, directly or indirectly by means likely to be used by the Data Controller……in particular by reference to an identification number, location data, online identifier…”

The definition makes no distinction between personal data which is not directly identifiable, such as an IP address identifying a device not a person and data which is, e.g. name and address. Furthermore an IP address only identifies a device not a person. This change would make profiling and web analytics much more difficult, if not impossible. This would change the whole way the internet and email marketing works. The easy user experiences and communications users are currently used to from talented marketers would be replaced with either nothing or un-targeted information, a backward step which will not benefit users or business. The updated European data protection legislative framework need to allow the commercial developments to continue, which will allow business to grow and users to have positive relevant information sent to them.

It is imperative that the definition of personal data is revised otherwise the online economy may be severely damaged.

This entry was posted in Best Practice, Data Management, Legislation on by .
Sara Watts

About Sara Watts

Following graduation from University, Sara Watts began her Direct Marketing career in the motor industry, which soon led to her joining Carsource Ltd, the UK’s first online car portal, as Marketing Manager in 1995.

Over the last 12 years, Sara has played an integral role in the growth and development of Carsource Ltd. Following Sara’s launch of the Data side of the business the business was re named, Data, Media & Retail Ltd (DMRi). Sara has worked at DMR since it was founded and has seen the business grow form a small privately owned business to a large data company which was purchased by DMGT in Jan 2006. In March 2010 DMRi was purchased as part of a management buyout. Sara now works with a team of Directors / owners and is concentrating on making sure DMR is ahead of the game in integrating social media with more traditional online marketing to ensure clients are able to undertake data collections and email marketing effectively and with great results.

Sara has played an active role on the DMA’s email council for 4 years and has is also on the best practice and legal hub. Since completing an MBA in 2006 Sara has also had an academic interest in the industry and strongly believes that it is in everyone’s interest for individuals and companies to share best practice, insight and technological advancements. This approach of sharing of knowledge, combined with sound business knowledge and common sense can lead to marketers and consumers benefiting from excellent marketing.