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The DMA meets with ministers about EU data rule threats

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On 23 October Ministers met with the advertising and marketing industry to discuss the draft EU Data Protection Regulation, which could, if adopted in its current form, be very damaging for the UK direct marketing industry.

In a roundtable meeting held at the Advertising Association, Justice Minister Helen Grant MP and Culture Minister Ed Vaizey MP heard industry’s key concerns and agreed to work with us to ensure that the new data laws work fairly and sensibly for both consumers and business.

Key threats to UK business of draft EU Data Protection Regulation Industry representatives said that strong and effective data laws are needed and support updating EU data protection laws to make them fit for the digital age. However, measures currently proposed would be bad for business, imposing additional compliance and administrative burdens as well as overly prescriptive rules for processing data.

Concerns include requiring explicit consent for the processing of most data, any redefinition of personal information to include cookies and IP addresses, and the introduction of a new “right to be forgotten”.

Ministers heard fears that the changes could undermine the creation of free, advertising-funded content; disrupt consumers’ online experience; and hamper the free flow of data which enables the internet economy to function and grow.

The key points highlighted for Ministers were:

  • The importance to the UK economy of getting data laws right – data is essential for growth in the sector
  • Industry recognises the need to be transparent and handle customer data with care
  • The proposed regulation would be bad for consumers, damaging their online user experience
  • Not all data is the same – there needs to be a distinction between personal data, anonymous/pseudonymous data and sensitive data – and the legislation needs to reflect this.

Scott Logie, Chairman of the DMA chaired the meeting – other industry attendees included the Advertising Association, IPA, ISBA, Market Research Society, Newspaper Society, Newspaper Publishers Association, British Interactive Media Association, and Professional Publishers Association.

Justice Minister Helen Grant said: “As technology advances, data protection must keep up but European legislators must balance new rules against the risk of undermining UK businesses. Governments, regulators and industry should be co-operating on proportionate rules to reassure and protect consumers.”

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said: “Britain’s creative industries and the strength of its online economy are the envy of Europe. We must find a way to protect consumers which doesn't undermine innovation, so that we can continue to drive growth in some of the UK’s most valuable sectors.”

Scott Logie thanked the Ministers for taking the time to meet with industry and welcomed their commitment to work with us to present a strong British voice in the development of the new legislation.

He said: “While the UK remains mired in a protracted recession, the creative industries are among the few that are performing strongly, with direct marketing in particular making an outstanding contribution to the UK economy. We fully appreciate the need for data protection rules to be in place to build consumer trust in sharing their information with companies, but getting this balance wrong will have terrible financial consequences to UK plc.”

Contact Caroline Roberts, 020 7291 3346.

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