Keep Calm and Email On: What the Success of Brexit Means to Marketers

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Wow, was I wrong. As you may remember, I predicted that the vote would be for Britain to stay in the European Union. In an amazing chain of events, the vote went the other way, in a 52%–48% split.

There are a few times in your life when you have that “I remember when” moment and today is certainly one of them. With the UK voting to exit the European Union (Britain + exit = Brexit) we are certainly heading down the path of a new marketing and digital compliance road.

Before those of us who market to the UK and the EU get ready to step off the ledge, let’s take a step back and – keep calm and digital market on.

How Brexit will affect General Data Protection Regulations

This is what we know today, in terms of any relationship between of Brexit and the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations):

  • Brexit will have no impact on the GDPR. The GDPR will simply not apply in the UK.
  • The existing UK Data Privacy Act of 1998, which we have all been working under, will continue to apply until (and unless) the UK amends this act.
  • As you know, the GDPR is scheduled to become effective April 2018. Therefore, unless other countries within the EU decide to leave before then, the GDPR will be the law of the European Union land.

Here are some comments on the impacts of Brexit:

The Information Commissioners Office: ““The Data Protection Act remains the law of the land irrespective of the referendum result…If the UK is not part of the EU … UK data protection standards would have to be equivalent to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation framework starting in 2018.”

The Direct Marketing Association: “The UK will remain an EU member state for the next two years at least while we negotiate our exit, this process will formally begin with triggering of Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union expected in the Autumn once a new prime minister has been appointed.”

EU Email Marketing Daily: “So for the UK, it’s business as usual while a new trade agreement with the EU is established. For the rest of the EU, email marketers are hardly going to draw up an email list where British identities are singled out for less protection because it is obviously far more straightforward to apply the GDPR across all EU and UK lists. So, it’s business as usual for marketers in mainland Europe also…That means the process of re-permissioning lists cannot be put off.

So what’s a digital marketer to do?

As you start to plan for the coming years, you will need to bring your program up to the compliance requirements of the GDPR. As the Brexit fallout continues I would imagine (no prediction here) that the UK may modify the Data Privacy Act to align with the GDPR framework.

Regardless of what happens in the UK, the EU compliance initiatives will require you to make these changes, so I encourage you to review what’s coming and get prepared.

In the near term there will be lots of information and continued commentary on this subject, we will certainly will keep you updated as we lean more.

Until then, keep calm and email on.


David Fowler