The Queen’s Speech 2022 - A New Direction for Data in the UK

UK Houses of Parliament

On the 10th of May 2022, during the Queen’s Speech, at the behest of the government, Charles, the Prince of Wales made a statement which will likely impact data and marketing professionals in the UK in the coming years. The speech, which sets out the government's priorities for the parliamentary session, but rarely includes significant detail, contained the single sentence “The United Kingdom’s data protection regime will be reformed”.

Understandably, this has left many in the data and marketing industry unsure of what exactly will change, and when. Chris Combemale, CEO of UK trade association the DMA, is calling for urgent clarity, saying “The data, marketing and creative industries remain in limbo, unsure of what form the UK’s data protection reforms will take. Data-driven innovation can still deliver further growth across the digital economy, without compromising the UK's data adequacy status or current privacy protections, but the government must move forward urgently and publish the results of the ‘Data: A new direction’ consultation and the text of the legislative reforms”.

Read on for a summary of what we do know - and why the uncertainty might not be as bad as it seems. 

The Status Quo

Unbeknownst to some, when the UK left the EU in January 2020, the EU’s GDPR was effectively copied into UK law almost verbatim. The “UK GDPR” maintained the status quo, allowing the UK to gain a (relatively) quick equivalence decision - as required by the EU, considering the UK’s new designation as a “third country”. Equivalence effectively means that the EU will consider the data of EU citizens collected, processed, and stored in the UK to be GDPR compliant, as the UK’s regulatory environment offers equivalent protections to those of the EU.

A New Direction

In August 2021, Oliver Dowden (then UK minister for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport) set out the government’s plan to diverge from the EU’s data regime in an interview with The Telegraph. He suggested that, in many cases, the provisions of the GDPR are too onerous, with opportunities for UK business being stymied by the existing regulations. In November 2021, the government concluded its public consultation on reforms to the UK’s data protection regime, entitled “Data: a new direction”, but so far, has made no announcement regarding an updated white paper or draft legislation.

Post Queen’s speech, whether data reform is a real priority for the government remains to be seen - some have branded the exercise as sabre-rattling towards the EU, whilst others see it as a key component of the government’s Global Britain strategy.

Risks and Rewards for Marketers

Of course, regulatory change increases uncertainty in the short term, which is a risk in itself - but it is reasonable to assume that if you’re collecting and processing customer data in a GDPR compliant way, you’ll be compliant in the future - both in the UK and the EU. Although yet to be finalised, the UK’s deregulations are likely to reduce the administrative costs of marketing, particularly when dealing with domestic data. The newly-appointed information commissioner, John Edwards, said he expects to be able to provide greater flexibility to business in future in a recent interview with the FT.

Whilst divergence from the EU does raise the likelihood of the adequacy decision being withdrawn in the mid-to-long term, UK organisations can always opt to comply with the GDPR when dealing with EU citizens, and contract their suppliers to do the same. Providing the EU doesn’t take issue with the rule of law in the UK - accepting that the UK justice system can adjudicate contract disputes fairly - the use of standard contractual clauses, pre-authorised by the EU is likely to suffice.

B2B Marketing Strategy

Many B2B marketers still operate under the incorrect assumption that they may only process prospect data having gained consent. As the DMA points out, the GDPR legal basis of “Legitimate Interest” is significantly underutilised. UK B2B marketers can use this basis to significantly widen their prospect pool, particularly by working with reputable data partners, who conduct careful research to identify contacts and ascertain relevance, in order to support their clients’ compliance.

Particularly as the end of third-party cookies approaches, marketers should assess the effectiveness of their digital ad campaigns carefully, and consider alternative channels. For instance, research conducted by direct mail industry body Jicmail shows that direct mail enjoys average open rates of 80%, and direct mail has proven incredibly resilient during Covid as have other Direct Marketing approaches including Phone & Email.

If you’re looking to position your organisation for growth, get in touch with the experts at Corpdata today. Give your teams the high-quality prospect data they need to take advantage of the recovery, and power your acquisition programmes.

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