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GDPR and what it means for you

Information is the most sought-after commodity in the digital age. Whether you’re buying a new TV, cutlery set or simply signing up for a newsletter, everyone wants your information. Where you live, your email address, age, telephone number, occupation and even your marital status are all in demand.

Why? Well data equals currency. In the past, personal details were regularly sold by businesses to third parties who would then sell them on again, resulting in unwanted emails, telephone calls and junk mail for many. In recent years, the regulations around marketing were tightened with the inclusion of ‘Opt In’ and ‘Opt Out’. This meant that consumers could ‘opt out’ of receiving direct mail or telephone calls but needed to ‘opt in’ to receive marketing emails and texts.

On 25 May 2018, a new set of regulations came into force replacing the old Data Protection Act – it’s called the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR.

GDPR is a new set of guidelines created by the EU and being implemented in the UK. It replaces various other data management and protection laws around Europe, including the Data Protection Act 1998.

There are a couple of reasons it's been updated; first, data protection legislation was out-of-date given developments in digital communications over the past two decades and, second, to ensure data protection policies across Europe are in line with each other.

GDPR places a lot more governance on businesses regarding how they use personal data. For example, they must keep records as to what they are using data for and, if they don’t have a good reason to keep the data, then they must delete it.

For consumers there are some powerful additional new regulations which will safeguard against illicit use of their personal information. A consumer can ask a business for access to all information that is held on them. This includes emails and text messages. This is called ‘Right to Access.’ There is also something called ‘Right to be Forgotten’ where a customer can contact a business and ask for their data to be deleted.

There are services available today that can help stop nuisance calls and junk mail. The Telephone Preference Service is a free central opt out register for those who don’t want to receive marketing calls. There is also a mail version called….you guessed it, The Mail Preference Service. These registers are used by trustworthy businesses to ensure they don’t send or call materials that are unwanted.

Recent media headlines regarding the use of personal data allegedly taken from Facebook during the 2016 US Election and Brexit Referendum, goes to show the value of personal data and how it’s used to try and influence outcomes.

The GDPR brings stricter guidelines for businesses and heavier penalties if they breach the new rules, but everyone has a part to play. It’s incumbent on everyone to be careful as to who they share their personal information with, what permissions they give and what they post online. After all, it’s who you are!

25 May 2018

Paragon Bank PLC is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Registered in England number 05390593. Registered office 51 Homer Road, Solihull, West Midlands B91 3QJ. Paragon Bank PLC is registered on the Financial Services Register under the firm reference number 604551