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Most GDPR emails unnecessary and some illegal, say experts | Technology | The Guardian
Most GDPR emails unnecessary and some illegal, say experts
Many firms have the required consent already; others don’t have consent to send a request

Alex Hern

@alexhern
Mon 21 May 2018 17.21 BST Last modified on Mon 21 May 2018 17.48 BST
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Inboxes have been flooded lately with GDPR-related emails. Photograph: Alamy
The vast majority of emails flooding inboxes across Europe from companies asking for consent to keep recipients on their mailing list are unnecessary and some may be illegal, privacy experts have said, as new rules over data privacy come into force at the end of this week.

Many companies, acting based on poor legal advice, a fear of fines of up to €20m (£17.5m) and a lack of good examples to follow, have taken what they see as the safest option for hewing to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): asking customers to renew their consent for marketing communications and data processing.


Why the GDPR email deluge, and can I ignore it?
Read more
But Toni Vitale, the head of regulation, data and information at the law firm Winckworth Sherwood, said many of those requests would be needless paperwork, and some that were not would be illegal.

“Businesses are not required to automatically ‘repaper’ or refresh all existing 1998 Act consents in preparation for the GDPR,” Vitale said. “The first question to ask is: which of the six legal grounds under the GDPR should you rely on to process personal data? Consent is only one ground. The others are contract, legal obligation, vital interests, public interest and legitimate interests.
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GDPR Hysteria · Jacques Mattheij
No, the GDPR has the potential to escalate to those levels but in the spirit of the good natured enforcers at the various data protection agencies in Europe they will first warn you with a notice that you are not in compliance with the law, give you some period of time to become compliant and will - if you ignore them - fine you. That fine will be proportional to the transgression. You can of course ignore the fine and then ‘all bets are off’ but if you pay the fine and become compliant you can consider the matter closed. The typical EU pattern in case of repeated transgressions on the same subject is increasing fines. This can get expensive quickly and most businesses tend to adjust their processes promptly once they have been fined the first time. The reason why I am sure this is the way it will go down is this is exactly how it has been done so far, every interaction with data protection authorities has followed the exact same pattern: warn, fine, increased fines. There are no known cases - though I’m willing to be surprised on this one, but none that I can find - where an entity was presented with a huge fine without first being given a chance to comply with the law.
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