What Constitutes Personal Data in Business to Business?

Personal Data in the Business to Consumer (B2C) world is fairly straightforward – everything is personal data, because it refers to the person, i.e. the consumer. However, there is a common misconception that Business to Business (B2B) data is purely business and therefore does not include any personal data. It’s a simple mistake to make – “Business to Business” doesn’t sound like it has anything to do with “Personal” – but if you labour under this misapprehension, beware!

Even the Experts Get it Wrong

It’s amazing how many times I hear people within my industry claiming that rules regarding personal data don’t apply to them because their business deals purely in B2B. “Yes, we’re aware of the new EU Regulation changes, but they don’t affect us because we’re B2B”.

Now, notwithstanding the fact that the EU Regulation changes, when they come in, will affect every business in the UK that stores its customers’ details, the above belief is absolutely and unreservedly 100% incorrect. Here’s why…

The Distinction between Personal Data and Non-Personal Data

Some people seem to struggle with the differentiation, but I’ve found that there’s a simple way to distinguish which is which. It’s all about the targeted recipient…

If the information is generic, i.e. applies to the company and not an individual, then it’s not Personal Data. A main switchboard telephone number, for example, is not Personal Data, because it is not specific to a named person. Post addressed to the company, or a department / job role within a company again is not Personal Data. As for generic emails such as Sales@ or Admin@ well these too, being not addressed to a named individual, do not constitute Personal Data.

However, where a person is named, then it becomes Personal Data. For example, post addressed to “Finance Director” is not Personal Data, but if addressed to “Steve Clayton, Finance Director”, it becomes Personal Data. Similarly direct telephone lines can be seen as being Personal Data as they are specific to one named person and personal emails such as Steve@ and Joanne@ are also classed as Personal Data.

Why Do I Need To Know?

In a nutshell, the law. When it comes to being compliant to the Data Protection Act (DPA) and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), you need to be clear as to where you must have permission to conduct direct marketing.

You see, Non-Personal Data such as switchboard telephone numbers and generic email addresses does not require an opt-in to market to them, whereas Personal Data does (telephone numbers must always be screened against the Telephone Preference Service register (TPS), along with the Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS) whether personal or not). Failure to obtain the appropriate opt-in could land you in deep water with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and they have the authority to issue companies and individuals with significant fines where breaches occur.

The Proposed EU Regulation Changes

Set to arrive in 2018 (based on current estimates), the proposed amended EU regulations will only serve to tighten up the above even further. Once these become law, you can bet your bottom dollar that the ICO will be set to clamp down even harder on companies that fail to abide by the laws and regulations surrounding direct marketing and Personal Data. As such, it’s best to familiarise yourself right now, so that you are not only safe in your current activities but well ahead of the game when it comes to preparing for the inevitable future changes.

As with all things regarding the protection of the individual’s rights regarding the use of Personal Data, we at Data Bubble take these matters very seriously. The correct use of Personal Data, in accordance with laws and regulations, serves to protect the integrity of our industry. This must be paramount now and in the future, both for the benefit of the industry and for consumers everywhere.

Joanne Clayton

If you are looking for new customers, I can help.

I help companies to get more new business by providing Business Data for Direct Marketing campaigns such as Postal, Telemarketing & Email broadcasting campaigns.

If you need any information, call me on 01274 965411 or visit http://databubble.info

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