Derek Harding: Brexit and Email Marketing
The UK’s vote to leave the European Union, aka Brexit, came as a shock to many, including a good number who voted for it. In the aftermath many are wondering both what happens now and what the impact will be.
The impact on email marketing for the general consumer will, I believe, be little to none. The UK’s position on privacy is broadly in line with that of Europe so the rules for email marketing are unlikely to change as a result of this. For brands in the UK I also see little change for the same reasons. They will continue to operate much the same as they have until now. Where I do see a challenge is for European brands working with UK email providers.
The EU is in the process of implementing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The purpose of which is to strengthen and unify data protection within and across the EU. GDPR is so far along that it will go into force before the UK leaves the EU. The result is that UK privacy law will reflect GDPR in the short term and likely continue to do so in the longer term. This is why there will be little effect for UK brands or consumers.
The problem is EU brands working with UK providers. For countries outside the EU to handle European data they need to convince the European Commission that they provide an adequate level of protection. I don’t doubt that will happen but no one knows how long it will take or what the circumstances will be. In the meantime European brands are left with enormous uncertainty about placing their data in the UK or with UK providers.
As a British American I’ve experienced this challenge under the old US safe harbor agreement. The extra hoops that must be jumped through acted as an inconvenience and a barrier to competing with European providers and that was with the certainty of an agreement in place. For at least the next two years the UK will not have that certainty.
With the timeframe and outcome both uncertain brands will need to evaluate the costs and benefits and consider their options. Some may elect to exclude UK providers from RFPs or even switch to EU based providers for their data hosting requirements. UK based providers will have to work that much harder to win or retain their business.
In the long run this will likely turn out to be a storm in a teacup, but for the next two years or so it will make life that much more complicated for email marketers working across the channel.