Information Commissioner’s Office confirmed in early 2018 that companies will be able to use legitimate interests and not have to gain explicit consent under GDPR to contact consumers by post.
No one can escape the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which comes into effect on 25 May 2018, bringing with it several changes to the way ‘consent’ is considered and gathered in relation to the processing of personally identifiable information (PII).
It will also notably update the key principle of ‘legitimate interest’. These are two of the six legal bases for lawful data processing and the most important ones when it comes to you and your business marketing communications.
Direct Mail remains an opt out media
Legitimate interest looks at balancing the interest of the data controllers and the data subjects and is particularly important as regards to direct mail which remains an opt-out media where consent is not required but legitimate interest may be argued.
Reviewing the key differences between the Data Protection Act and the GDPR one can see the changes clearly and the intention behind them.
Legitimate interest under the Data Protection Act
” The processing is necessary for the purposes of legitimate interest pursued by the data controller or the third party or parties to whom the data are disclosed, except where the processing is unwarranted in any particular case by reason of prejudice to the rights and freedoms of legitimate interests of the data subject.”
Legitimate interest for GDPR
“The legitimate interests of a controlled, including those of a controller to which the Personal Data may be disclosed, or of a third party, may provide a legal basis for processing, providing that the interests or the fundamental rights and freedoms of the data subject are not overriding, taking into consideration the reasonable expectations of data subjects based on their relationship with the controller. This will not be applicable if carried out by public authorities in the performance of their daily obligations.”
Documented legitimate interest
Under GDPR if legitimate interest is to be used, the reason for processing must be necessary, real and not vague. There is a real need to balance interests of the business against those of the consumer (considering their rights and interests) and this needs to be done formally through a documented legitimate interest assessment to provide evidence.
Some companies are electing to go opt-in only for direct mail (particularly charities) and rely on consent only, but they don’t have to as legitimate interest is regarded as perfectly valid by the ICO, as long as the business is really making a considered case.
This will be a tough balancing act along with undoubted confusion over practicalities of when it can be used in relation to processing PII.
Studying the regulations and the guidance closely
Looking at both when it might be appropriate to use legitimate interest and what would constitute a best practice approach to balancing the needs of the customer and your organisation.
We know how effective direct mail can be and you will want to make sure that post GDPR you are still benefiting from the impact of this powerful media and doing the right thing for your customers.
Here are a few pointers to consider to put in your GDPR compliant action plan:
- Be clear on the benefit of direct mail to the business
- Demonstrate the potential benefit to the end customer
- Consider no distress or harm comes to the end customer
- Conduct targeting, profiling and segmentation to identify the most responsive audience
- Analyse previous engagement with direct mail as a proxy for interest
- Consider screening database against the Mail Preference Service (MPS)
- Make opting out as easy as it in to opt in
- Always exclude those that have opted out of future campaigns.
Be prepared for GDPR
To understand the full scope of legitimate interest within GDPR and how it will impact on direct mail. Visit the ICO website at the following link. https://ico.org.uk/
Direct Mail Marketing 2018 and beyond
Contact the Paragon Print and Marketing Solutions team and discuss ways to use direct mail in your business communications and take your products and services forward in 2018 and beyond.