By Marcus Leach

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has raised industry concerns that the European Commission’s proposals for the comprehensive reform of data protection legislation could have serious financial consequences for UK plc.

The professional body, which represents the UK’s multi-billion pound direct marketing industry, fears that the EU’s new draft Data Protection Regulation poses a severe threat to the ability for UK businesses to use data to market their goods and services to consumers.

Commenting on the publication of the draft text of the Regulation Chris Combemale, executive director of the DMA, said:

“UK businesses need to be worried about the potential impact of the Data Protection Regulation on their ability to market their goods and services to consumers. Severe restrictions on the way in which they can use personal data for marketing purposes will be hugely damaging to sales.

“Since 2009 [when the Data Protection Directive came up for review], we’ve been leading the industry’s efforts to ensure that the EU’s policymakers take the industry’s interests into full consideration. We’ve achieved some success because the move toward an opt-in only regime for offline direct marketing hinted at in early leaked drafts wasn’t in the official draft text published today. However, we mustn’t be complacent because there remains every possibility this could be reinstated at a later stage.

“There are a number of other points in the Regulation that we are also concerned about and we’ll studying these in detail. This is just the start of a long process before the Regulation comes into law. We’ll be conducting research to assess the economic impact of the Regulation on the multi-billion pound direct marketing industry so that we can put a strong case to the lawmakers at every stage to ensure that there are no detrimental consequences for the industry.

“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.”

The DMA is now studying the draft text of the Regulation and will be issuing further comment at a later stage. Among the points of concern is the ‘right to be forgotten’. The current draft is unclear on the point that the use of suppression files, which are used to allow consumers to opt-out of the use of their data for marketing purposes, will be exempt from the ‘right to be forgotten’.

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