The tougher European standard could see companies hit with huge fines for any breaches.
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) means many groups who send you emails need to confirm you consent to them using your personal details.
For example, if you are still okay to receive marketing information and promotions.
It means consent can no longer be assumed. Pre-ticked boxes that you have to uncheck are now banned; as is hiding consent in the middle of long chunks of legal text.
Some companies who used these methods to ‘sneak’ you on their email lists have been scrambling to make sure you really want to hear from them.
Consent now needs to be “unambiguous and involve a clear affirmative action”, according to the UK Information Commissioner’s Office.
The new law says the process for giving a company the okay to use your details must be in an “easily accessible form, using clear and plain language”.
You must also be told exactly what your information will be used for – and it must be easy to opt out in future.
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Businesses could be hit by huge fines – up to €20m (£17.6m) or 4% of annual turnover, whichever is higher – if they cannot prove that you explicitly agreed to them using your data.
For a mutinational firm it could run into hundreds of millions, for a smaller firm it could send them out of business.