European Postal Operators Raise Concerns on the New Data Protection Rules

In light of the recent amendments to the proposed new Data Protection rules, some major concerns were raised by European Postal Data Protection regulatory experts, particularly in the area of the definition of personal data, legitimate interests as a legal basis for data treatment and limitations on customer profiling.

PostEurop and its Members of established European postal operators have raised concerns that the latest proposal for amendments made on 8 January 2013 to the EU proposals on consumer data protection reforms, may have a major impact on the citizen’s privacy, European economy and postal operator’s activities.

In principal, postal operators appreciate the initiative taken to apply a more uniform regulation for the protection of personal data at a European level, in order to strengthen individual rights while tackling the challenges of globalisation and new technologies. PostEurop approves the principle of “technological neutrality” that enables the regulation to set up fundamental principles to protect the personal data of European citizens. But PostEurop wishes to underline that the usage and risks differ greatly between print and electronic media and in some cases, applying the same rules may lead to inconsistencies making it impossible to undertake effective Direct Mail campaigns.

According to PostEurop experts, the amendments to clauses - mainly those regarding the definition of personal data, legitimate interests as a legal basis for data treatment and limitations on customer profiling - will seriously affect the mail activity of the postal sector. As it stands, the postal sector is already struggling with declining mail volumes. Customers including small and medium size companies, the press sector and mail ordering will be dramatically affected too as they will be deprived of one the most popular way of prospecting. Hence, postal operators would like to draw the attention of the stakeholders to the following points.

A Balanced Approach
Direct Mail is a proven, trusted, affordable and effective way for businesses to communicate directly with their customers. Surveys shows that the Direct Mail is the most appreciated advertising media by consumers. Many businesses including small and medium enterprises (SMEs) rely heavily on Direct Mail due to its affordability and ability to build customer loyalty as well as attract potential new customers. The current regulation in place for treatment of personal data for reasons of Direct Mail already provides a balanced approach for both consumers and businesses. Thus, ensuring continued growth of products and services to suit consumer needs.

Maintaining a Trusted Network for Growth
For centuries, European Postal Operators have built a valuable and trusted network reaching out to all citizens. The Direct Marketing business has made it possible for postal operators to help businesses and in turn contribute to maintaining a Universal Service Obligation for all. This further ensures that each European citizen has access to postal services through the network. The proposed new regulation must take into consideration the citizen’s right in this respect.

Commenting on the European Parliament’s draft report, Jean-Paul Forceville, Chairman of the PostEurop Management Board, said: “Whilst we appreciate the initiative to apply data protection rules in a consistent way, we feel that the proposed draft of the regulation poses a serious threat to European Postal Operators and the very core of our Universal Service Obligation to citizens, and not to mention the viability of businesses that depend on direct marketing to drive their business leading to more service and product offering for consumers. The proposed legislation will inevitably create unnecessary problems for growth prospects around E-Commerce and many businesses.”

PostEurop therefore continues to urge that Members of the Parliament voting on this proposal will strongly take into consideration the points raised and take the necessary steps to ensure a more balanced approach towards both securing consumer privacy and ensuring that businesses continue to run in an already challenging economic environment.

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