GDPR is fast-approaching, and despite UK firms’ general optimism, guidance on how to approach the regulations may not be released until next April.
In August DIGIT spoke to several companies viewing GDPR as an opportunity.
Dog Digital, the British Interactive Media Association and the Digital Marketing Association all told DIGIT that GDPR presents a unique opportunity to revamp data collection process and transform customer trust.
Despite this enthusiasm, the Article 29 Working Party has announced that it has only just began its consultation on GDPR, which closes on January 27th 2018. Which, according to Decision Marketing, could mean that final guidelines are not published until April – just weeks ahead of GDPR becoming law.
The Information Commissioner’s Office had originally pledged to publish ‘consent guidance’ for GDPR in June of this year, but this was delayed until December. At the time ICO claimed that it was waiting for the Article 29 Working Party – which involved one member from each EU member state – to release its consent guidance. “Once this has happened, our guidance will follow,” the ICO asserted.
Between the late commencement of A29WP’s consultation and a plenary meeting scheduled for the beginning of February, there are doubts that any effective conclusions will be gathered in time. Additionally, the next meeting after the plenary meeting in February is not until April, only weeks before the launch of General Data Protection Regulation on May 25th.
When questioned on the guidance delay, an ICO spokeswoman told Decision Marketing: “Yes, that is correct. I’d point you to our blog post which says the ICO’s draft guidance on consent is a good place to start right now. It’s unlikely that the guidance will change significantly in its final form.”
One industry insider told DM: “Surprise, surprise, the shambolic handling of GDPR guidance continues. [Information Commissioner] Elizabeth Denham might talk a good game but at the end of the day, what have we actually got apart from the ‘GDPR 12 steps to take now’ guidance, produced in March?
“We have a hotline for SMEs, that pushes the 12 steps guide and we’ve had the ICO conference roadshow that pushes the 12 steps guide.
“Of course the ICO has insisted we should follow the draft consent guidance as it won’t change much, apparently, although quite how it can say that without the A29WP having its say is beyond me. I guess there’s always the legitimate interests guidance, although that is not so much in the slow lane, it is still in the garage waiting for the mechanic.”
The news comes as the DMA and Advertising Association have released a letter addressed to the Government asking the ICO to align itself as closely as possible with the EU on data protection policy, despite Brexit.
Chris Combemale, CEO of the DMA Group, reiterated that GDPR presents unique opportunities if correctly seized upon. Combemale said: “The UK’s data-driven creative industry is already a global leader and unfettered access to the digital single market is important to its continued success.
“The UK will be in a unique position upon Brexit because the GDPR will be applicable in the UK already. No other third country will be in this position, and the Government should capitalise on this to ensure minimal disruption for consumers and businesses. Striking such a deal would be a huge gain for the entire UK economy, which relies on being able to exchange personal data freely across EU borders.”
The letter, which has gathered support from Facebook, Twitter, Google, Unilever and Sky alongside trade marketing bodies, calls for the ICO to retain full voting rights and allow UK consumers to benefit from all of the rights-enhancing GDPR mechanisms.
It asserts that advertising and marketing are central to the UK economy, valuing annual UK exports of advertising services at £4.3 billion. The letter also reports that every £1 spent on advertising returns £6 to the economy, therefore adding £120 billion to the wider economy overall. The importance of data in these two industries should be obvious, and indeed a survey conducted by the DMA found that 76% of businesses want to retain access to the digital single market post-Brexit.
Stephen Woodford, Chief Executive at the Advertising Association, said: “A deal that essentially puts rocket boosters on to our export potential will be precisely the right decision during this phase of the Brexit negotiations.
“In an increasingly global and digital marketplace, it is vital we talk the same language as those territories we want to do business with. Our industry is showing sustained growth in digital ad spend and so we have a huge opportunity to build our exports of advertising services in the coming years, particularly in the area of digital advertising, whether that is through creative or technological services.
“Otherwise, the risk is we are left isolated and unable to trade freely and competitively in this crucial growth area for the industry.”