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GDPR: What Is It, and What Should I Know?

Ryan Bryant on June 11, 2018

GDPR: What Is It, and What Should I Know?
The new GDPR regulations are a collection of new digital guidelines for organizations. You may have even heard about the scary fines associated with these regulations, that can go up to 20 million Euros or 4 percent of annual global turnover (whichever is highest). With that in mind, here are the two questions we keep hearing:

1. How do I ensure I’m compliant? Make sure you don’t purchase email lists; ensure you allow everyone to opt-out of all automated emails you send them; and the newest, important kicker – if the people receiving your emails have NEVER replied, opted-in, or done business with you within 365 days – you must DELETE them from your database altogether.

2. But wait, I only do business in Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas – does this really affect me? If you are not headquartered in Europe, do not have an affiliate office in Europe, and/or do not do any overseas business with anyone other than internal USA work… no, it does not truly affect you. It’s simply the new global standard moving forward for email data collection and usage ethics. If you want to dive into a more thorough explanation of GDPR and what it’s all about, you can read that information here.

What you’re likely not hearing about in soundbites and social media headlines is that the USA has already had similar rules since 2003. It’s called the CAN-SPAM Act. What are the differences?

1. If you are headquartered in the United States, have a USA-based affiliate office, or do business with any American companies, then you should already be complying with the CAN-SPAM ACT. Full version here.

2. You need to ensure that your basic contact information (full physical address and phone number) are on the footer of every email you send, no matter what—per CAN-SPAM, you have the right to contact anyone who sends you an email, period. 

3. You need to ensure your e-newsletters and automated sales emails have a specific OPT OUT button, so that with one click, people may UNSUBSCRIBE from your services or correspondence. You’ve likely unsubscribed from plenty of newsletters and spam messages in your life. Just make sure your business isn’t burdening others in the same way.

4. Did you know if you violate the USA law, there are penalties, too? “Each separate email in violation of the law is subject to penalties of up to $41,484” Yep – just don’t do it. It’s not worth it.

The main takeaway? It’s all about where you do business. If you do any business outside the United States, it’s best to delete any unresponsive email addresses every 365 days. If you’re just working within the US, then you can keep spamming people who aren’t responsive to your sales pitches up until they decide to opt out. (But ask yourself: “Do I really want to do that? Does that give my company a good image within the community at large?”)

Make sure you’re being ethical with those emails and following the law, and you’ll be all set to keep emailing information to your clients. If you have any questions or concerns about how to best implement these changes, Levant can help. Contact us today!

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