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Rethink data collection practices, warns EventHuddle

Panel says practices like business card swaps won't cut it for continuous marketing under new GDPR laws

Pictured: Kevin Jackson chairs the EventHuddle panel of Christina Zammit (BreachAware), Hellen Beveridge (CircData) and Sandeep Mendiratta (Acrotrend) at 1 Wimpole St

Collecting business cards and scanning badges won't automatically give companies the right to begin regular contact under new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), an EventHuddle panel has warned.

The popular practice, which often takes place at trade shows and networking events, will not cut it for continuous marketing under the tighter new legislations coming into force on 25 May 2018.

Panellist Christina Zammit of BreachAware said: "A business card isn't open consent to start mailing them on a monthly basis. You're giving them permission to contact you, but not permission to keep on going. It's like if I gave my phone number to you, I'd expect a follow-up call (and not continuous calls)."

Zammit was speaking alongside Hellen Beveridge of CircData and Sandeep Mendiratta of Acrotrend in the monthly debate at 1 Wimpole St. It was chaired by Kevin Jackson of Experience is the Marketing.

Beveridge added that companies will get better at obtaining consent by expressing their plans of what to use the data for.

"If it's actually printed on the badge that says if someone scans you, it's akin to someone giving you their business card. If that's written on badge so delegates clearly understand what is happening, that becomes first party data. It's all about transparency."

Beveridge said companies should cleanse their data and destroy information that is no longer relevant. She added: "Ask yourself, why do we need 10,000 people in that database? Most of the information will not be relevant. Storing it is a waste of your personnel's energy."

"What do you actually collect data for, what do you use? It's getting event companies to think about not collecting data you don't need."

Sharing things like delegate lists among suppliers at tradeshows was fine as long as it was explicitly outlined in the registration process, Beveridge said. "You need to ask permission up front and say it in a user friendly way," she added.

Mendiratta said the two biggest changes that would affect the events industry would be properly managing data, in case of audits or requests to opt out, and obtaining unambiguous consent.

"Unambiguous consent needs to be understood really well because at the moment it's quite loose. It means many different things, and what exactly it means for events needs to be specified. Every organisation is different as well so we need to know what unambiguous means."

Zammit said companies were not doing enough to be ready.

"Data breaches are in the news all the time and it's these records being leaked. The users are getting scared now and questioning whether they have to give it to you or not. That's what the legislation is cracking down on, on holding more information than you need to because if a data breach does happen, the users are the ones who get the credit card details hacked, they're the ones who get phished."

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