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The DMA in Brussels: EU data protection update


The DMA in Brussels: EU data protection update

This week I travelled to Brussels with the DMA’s executive director, Chris Combemale, and director of external affairs, Mike Lordan, to organise our lobbying priorities and get a feel for the new European Union Parliament and Commission.

We watched the Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova’s hearing in the Parliament, an opportunity for MEPs to decide whether they accept or reject Commissioners, and the jury is still out on Jourova.

In her opening remarks Jourova said one of her four priorities was reform of data protection rules and so we can expect data protection to be high on her agenda if she takes up the position. She said that sitting atop of all her duties as Justice Commissioner was the responsibility to “building a fairer single market”.

The few data protection questions focused on two aspects: the swift adoption of the General Data Protection Regulation, and the protection of EU citizens’ data against government access from countries outside the EU. Detail was thin on the ground and Jourova’s answers were vague.

Jourova demonstrated a pragmatic work ethic and importantly was not rigid and ideological. However, this alone may not be enough to see her through as her lack of detail has led many MEPs to doubt her suitability for the post.

The DMA meets with FEDMA & the CBI
The remainder of our trip was spent liaising with the DMA’s pan-European representative body the Federation of European Direct and Interactive Marketing (FEDMA). FEDMA has a strong presence in Brussels and will be fundamental parts of our lobbying efforts on the continent in the coming months.

The DMA is working hard along with FEDMA to ensure that the EU Data Protection Regulation strikes the right balance between securing the rights of consumers and supporting the legitimate interests of one-to-one marketing businesses which as yet has not happened. That said, we are at least moving in the right direction, the Italian Council Presidency has been advancing the risk based approach to the regulation. This represents a more balanced approach and is supposed to reduce compliance costs for businesses.

We also met with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) to co-ordinate activity and get its perspective on the new look EU Parliament. The CBI thought that the biggest development was the increase of MEPs from far left and right political parties significantly changing the makeup of the Parliament.

The major thorn from a British perspective is that British MEPs have shifted away from the centre ground. Thus limiting the influence of the UK as a large percentage of our MEPs are not members of the mainstream parties in the EU.

We will be heading out to Brussels again in the New Year to lobby MEPs on the key issues that will affect the one-to-one marketing industry as the trilogue negotiations draw closer. The DMA will be releasing an update on the latest developments on the EU Data Protection Regulation in the coming weeks.

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Thanks for the update Zach. We're not waiting for the European Parliament, we have already started to upgrade our opt-in process. Just one look across the pond to Canada and their Anti-Spam laws gives a strong indication of what may happen in Europe. Permission marketing makes sense, why wait for it to become a legal requirement?

I read your blog piece this morning Graham and had a look at the webinar you did, its focus on practical changes for practitioners was good.  Happy to see you're ahead of the curve in moving towards opt-in as it is 99% certain that explicit consent will be in the final text.