How does GDPR affect Direct Marketing and Profiling

Direct marketing and consumer behavioral habits (profiling) are the key tools a company uses to sell their product or service. Therefore, those tools need to be aimed correctly towards the specific type of customer. For example, a company has an online shop, where you can buy anything from lawnmowers to beauty products. Because the range of supply is so wide, customers need to be categorized according to their needs. In this article, the focus will be aimed at how the GDPR regulates direct marketing and profiling.

Direct Marketing Under the GDPR

According to the GDPR, if personal data is used for direct marketing, the data subject has the right to object against such processing. This must be taken into account regardless of whether personal data processing was carried out prior GDPR. Therefore, every company that processes data for direct marketing purposes should get familiar with the GDPR and the measures, which need to be implemented.

As mentioned, data subjects have the right to object against their data processing. Therefore, companies need to inform data subjects of the fact, that their personal data will be for marketing purposes. If a data subject has objected against such processing, the company needs to comply with the objection. This means that they are obliged to stop processing personal data for marketing purposes.  The objection must be accepted and fulfilled free of charge. If a company asks for a fee, it may face a fine by the supervisory agency.

Consumer Profiling Under the GDPR

Profiling of a natural person basically has the same requirements as direct marketing. Companies need to inform data subjects, that their data will be used for profiling purposes. In addition to that, companies will have to inform data subjects of consequences caused by profiling activities. Data subjects must be informed whether they are obliged to provide data. The effects of declining to provide data must be mentioned as well. The data subject has the right to object against personal data processing for profiling purposes in the same way as for direct marketing.

The Implementation of Technical and Organizational Measures When Profiling

Companies need to implement technical and organizational measures towards the factors which may cause inaccuracies in personal data.  It has to be done so those inaccuracies could be corrected, and the risk of errors – minimized. Also, security measures should be taken in order to protect data against the potential risks towards individuals’ rights and freedoms.  As well as to prevent discriminatory effects on a natural person based on special category data (racial or ethnic origin, political opinion, religion or beliefs, trade union membership, genetic or health status or sexual orientation). Automated decision-making and profiling based on special category data should be allowed only under specific conditions.

When automated profiling is used, the company needs to inform the data subject about it and to give the data subject information about the logic involved, the significance and the envisaged consequences of the profiling.

All in all, if a company collects and processes personal data for direct marketing and profiling purposes, the GDPR is going to make their marketing strategies more difficult. Now data subjects need to be informed about the processing of their data for both profiling and direct marketing and they have the right to object such processing of their personal data, in which case company must meet this requirement. However, if a company processes personal data for both, direct marketing and profiling methods, objection needs to be applied for two of these separately.

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