If your email inbox is anything like mine, you will have recently been inundated with requests to confirm that you still wish to hear from various organisations, some familiar and some probably not.The deluge is due to the introduction of the EU General Data Protection Regulation today, accompanied by the Data Protection Act 2018 which, with Brexit on the horizon, is effectively the UK version of GDPR. Lots of organisations that did not get specific consent to send marketing emails are hoping that you will still want to hear from them, hence the emails.
The new law has been introduced because the Data Protection Act 1998 was ill equipped to regulate the deluge of digital technologies that arrived following its introduction. The new laws are all about returning power to the individual so it is clear how and why personal data (anything that can be used to identify someone) is used before consenting to using a service or product. The Facebook/Cambridge Analytica saga is a timely reminder of how powerful mining of 'big data' from seemingly innocuous and disparate information can be, and why concerns about how personal data are obtained and used are so pertinent. How many of those terms and conditions and privacy policies have you read in your rush to install the latest and greatest, usually free, app? It is free for a reason, and that is often access to information about you.
GDPR has important implications for dental practices, which were very ably covered by barrister Sana Khan in this month's Evening Expert webinar. Some are perhaps not so obvious, such as rendering illegal the purchase of mailing lists used for marketing. This has always been considered poor practice because of the risk of mailing those who have not opted in to receiving emails from third parties, despite what the list supplier claims.That hasn't stopped some companies claiming to provide 'GDPR-approved' lists. If you hold either of our annual memberships and have not listened to Sana's presentation or viewed the discussions please do so. There is a mound of invaluable information.
So how has the introduction of GDPR affected The Dental Channel? It has consumed a great deal of time for sure! There is much more to GDPR compliance than marketing emails. Here are the man changes that we have made.
The key theme of GDPR/DPA 2018 is individuals having control over their personal information. You can now download your personal information on The Dental Channel from your profile. Remember that you can edit, update, and delete this, as well as controlling the privacy of the information you add. You are in control!
Privacy and cookie policies
We have never purchased mailing lists, and only send newsletter to members. Prior to GDPR we required members to opt-in to receive a newsletter anyway, but there was always a chance that this could be missed and those who wanted to receive newsletters would not.
So now when registering you must select either Yes or No to receive our newsletter. No room for confusion!
Our main method of communication external to our site is email. Aside from the newsletters, we use email for sending information about courses e.g. enrolment and membership subscriptions. This is part of providing our service, and is especially important when members are not using the site regularly.
Email is also used to provide your community updates in a similar way to the well known social media site. Individual updates can be customised, so you can decide what reminders you wish to receive.
Please remember to add us to your safe senders list or address book so our emails are not incorrectly identified as spam and blocked.
We are already planning to hold a follow-up webinar once the dust has settled to see what the effects of GDPR will be on dental practice. The principles are sound, but what the practicalities will be only time will tell. If nothing else your in-box should no longer be clogged with marketing spam! Let's see.