General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

What is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)?

  • The GDPR is a new EU regulation to replace Directive 95/46/EC which will be directly applicable in every Member State. This means there is no need for the UK to implement any secondary legislation
  • The aim is to harmonize all data protection law across the EU and increase individual rights
  • The regulation will come into force on 25thMay 2018
  • Brexit may have some impact on the implementation in the UK, however it is likely that the UK will need to be compliant with the regulation in order to continue trading with the EU.


Confusion still reigns over what the current and proposed legislation is for B2B email marketing. The European Commission has now published the final version of its text for the replacement for the ePrivacy Directive (which will become a regulation) and there are still no proposed changes.

Here is an overview of the final version of the regulations:

  • Employees of corporates, ie. limited companies, publically limited companies, limited liability partnerships and government departments, can be emailed without prior consent.
  • Employees of corporates must be given the option to easily unsubscribe or opt-out from receiving email marketing.
  • Sole traders and partnerships are treated as consumers and will require opt-in.

Will these rules apply to your existing customers and prospects? If you obtain an email address for a sole trader or partnership whilst negotiating the sale of a product or service then you can use their email for unsolicited direct marketing purposes provided the following apply:

  1. Your marketing is for similar products or services offered by your company
  2. Your company told the recipient at the time of collecting their email address that it would be used for unsolicited email marketing and you provide a clear unsubscribe/opt-out at the same time
  3. Your company provides a clear unsubscribe/opt-out option every time you send an email message if the recipient did not unsubscribe/opt-out at the point of data collection.

Rachel Aldighieri, MD at the Direct Marketing Association said of this final version, “…the possibility of email marketing for these businesses (corporates) moving to opt-in… caused serious concern across the B2B marketing industry. If they had gone ahead, these alterations to the law could have had a profound and negative effect on the UK economy, so we welcome today’s announcement from the European Commission.