Navigating GDPR Guidelines in Direct Mail: What You Need to Know


If you’re in the direct mail business or are looking to dive into it, chances are you’ve heard about GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). It’s that pesky but essential regulation that keeps all of us on our toes when it comes to handling personal data. But fear not, because today, we’re going to talk about how GDPR guidelines affect us as data “processors.”


First things first, what exactly is GDPR? It’s the European Union’s stringent set of rules designed to safeguard the personal data of EU citizens. That means, if your business processes data, you need to play by GDPR’s rules, no matter where you are in the world. Our company is no exception – we’re processors of data, and GDPR compliance is a must.


Here are some key takeaways to help you understand how GDPR impacts direct mail, and why our role as data processors is crucial:


Consent is King: Under GDPR, you can’t just grab anyone’s personal data and start sending them direct mail. You need their clear and informed consent. This means people should know exactly what they’re signing up for. Direct Mail has the advantage of being an opt-out strategy meaning customers are consenting to receive direct mail when signing up for your site and will need to manually opt out of the channel.


Data Minimisation: Only collect the data you need for the specific purpose you’ve stated. If you don’t need to know someone’s shoe size for your mail campaign, don’t collect it. It’s all about respecting people’s privacy. For example, you might collect what was in someone’s basket when they left your site but may not collect things unrelated to your campaigns.


Transparency is Key: Be upfront about who you are, why you’re collecting data, and how you plan to use it. That means no sneaky business – clear and concise communication within your privacy policy notice is key


Data Security: As data processors, it’s our responsibility to ensure data is secure. That means strong encryption, secure storage, and measures to prevent data breaches. If there’s a breach, you have to report it ASAP.


Data Subject Rights: Individuals have the right to know what data you have about them, and they can request that you delete or correct it. Make sure your processes can handle these requests efficiently.


Record-Keeping: GDPR requires you to keep records of data processing activities. This helps you demonstrate compliance if the authorities come knocking.


International Data Transfers: If you’re sending mail internationally, make sure you follow GDPR’s guidelines for transferring data outside of the EU.


At Paperplanes, we are “data processors”. What’s a data processor you may ask? A data processor is like the behind-the-scenes worker in the data protection world. They’re the folks or companies that handle personal data on behalf of someone else.


Think of it this way: If you have a business and you collect people’s personal info, like names, emails, or addresses, and you hire another company to do something with that data, like sorting it, storing it, or analyzing it, that other company is the data processor. We follow strict rules to keep that data safe and not mess things up. (and more importantly we don’t pass it on to other third parties)


So, the processor’s job is to make sure they handle the data carefully and in line with the GDPR rules. They can’t just go and use the data for their own purposes or share it with random people. They need to stick to the job you hired them for and be responsible with the data.


The GDPR makes sure that both the business that collects the data (the “controller”) and the data processor play by the same rules to protect people’s personal info. It’s all about keeping data safe and respecting people’s privacy.


As data processors, we have a significant role to play in ensuring GDPR compliance. It’s not just about mailing lists; it’s about respecting people’s privacy and data rights. Remember, the GDPR isn’t just about avoiding hefty fines; it’s about fostering trust with your customers.


In conclusion, if you’re involved in direct mail, understanding and adhering to GDPR guidelines is a must. It’s not just red tape; it’s a way to show your commitment to data privacy. 


Got any more questions about GDPR or data processing? Feel free to ask; we’re here to help you navigate this complex but essential terrain.