In the past we have been content to share our personal contact details with business associates by a simple exchange of business cards or emails. This has extended to pre-ticked boxes on internet sign up forms and before you know it we are deluged with pitches from third party organisations and we have no idea how they acquired our email address.
Those of us who have used the same email address for many years are likely to be the most affected by this over-exposure, our inboxes filling daily with unwanted attempts at communication.
Which is why the impending change to data protection laws – the General Data Protection Regulation that applies from 25 May 2018 – is potentially far reaching.
Certainly, we will be working to ensure that our systems are compliant, and making sure that we deal with the issue of consent.
Post May 2018, the informal exchange of business contact information may need to be restructured to comply with the GDPR, it will be interesting to see how the thorny issue of permission giving can be dealt with without turning the entire issue into yet another raft of red tape.
At least accountants are unlikely to be affected by some of the excesses of GDPR consent: for example, we are unlikely to gather biometric data (thumb prints, retinal scans or DNA samples), or be interested in ethnicity issues.
To curb the excesses of unwanted attention, when personal data is commoditised, and peddled like soap on the internet, let us hope that new regulation does not slot rattle to the opposite extreme, and we are unable to set up bona-fide business to business lines of communication without undertaking unwieldy and time-consuming processing checks and balances.