Never (never, never, never, never, never!) has there been so much piffle, drivel, waffle, kerfuffle as there has been over the last few weeks/days/hours about GDPR.
Never (never, never, never, never, never!) have my in-box and my spam bin been so full of communication from people, companies, businesses, suppliers, contractors, contacts ad infinitum who I don’t know, have never spoken to, have never heard of, have never signed up to receive information from, but who are now sad to see me go. And why? They want my permission to keep my details on their databases and to keep sending me their stuff which I don’t read anyway.
I thought now you had to opt in, and that if you maybe had ‘signed up’ at some time in the past then you had to ‘sign up’ again, but then some communications from really big important bodies who you think might know the rules (and probably do as they make them up) tell me that if I do nothing I will automatically stay on their database. I thought tacit consent was out, but it appears it’s in after all. And then others tell me I need to opt in. It’s a verisimilitudinous hokey cokey of shades of gray.
What about us? We’ve written privacy policies for clients (we now have one too). We have run email campaigns over the last month to tell our clients’ contacts why their data is important to them and on what basis it is being held (consent, contractual, legitimate interest etc). We have kept that Mailchimp monkey spinning, as have thousands of others. Where would we be without the chimp?
And I’m still not sure where it stops – or what it stops. Is having an address book with names an offence? No, but leaving it on the bus could be. Should I write to everyone on my Christmas card list telling them they are on my list for the purposes of receiving a Christmas card and if they no longer wish to receive one could they please let me know? Is that just the business list, or the personal list? What if someone is on both? Am I in breach of GDPR and in for a wrist-slapping for inadvertently not blind copying all the names of the cricket team when I next send out an e mail to tell them the game is off because the pitch is waterlogged (OK I don’t play cricket but it’s just an example to suit the season, and I wanted to continue the in/out theme).
No one seems to know the answers. To send media info to media do we need the consent of the recipient journalist? To send information to MPs/MSPs/MEPs (as we all should as they invented this dog’s dinner) do we need their consent? It doesn’t add up for me. If there is a name, or a list of names on a website published by whoever, then they know they are going to get mail, don’t they? Or are our members of Parliament suddenly going to say “I like what you send me, but I don’t like what you send me. Please desist – and remove my name from your list.” Although it will still be there for gazillions of people to see on the internet.
We once had a fax machine. We got rid of it long ago because we were paying for a phone line and rolls of fax paper so that people who we did not want to hear from could send us their miserable messages in the hope we would order something from them (like more fax paper).
Will GDPR stop my spam box (and my in-box) being clogged full of messages that I don’t want from people sending me fake invoices, to buy things I don’t want, to go on courses I don’t need, or enjoy the opportunity to hook up with them, having looked at their photos (oh yeah) because I might want a new ‘friend’ in Novorosisk? Or even to be GDPR compliant? Will those really irritating phone calls from people trying to buy our business, sell our business, sell us cheaper electricity, sell us cheaper telephone calls, sell us dodgy shares, sell us a water cooler, suddenly stop? Will the goddam GDPR have any effect on all that.? I doubt it.
And if it does, and I no longer have to pick up the phone to hear that silence, then background chatter, then a click, and then a voice says “I hope you having a nice day?” well heck, I’m going to be lonely.