Here at the City Business Library we are being asked daily if businesses can still contact each other now that we have GDPR (General Data Protection Act), along with the Data Protection Act 2018. It is great that people are asking, and it is not often a piece of legislation generates so much interest or awareness.
The simple, and happy, answer is yes! Businesses can still contact each other.
There are compliance issues of course that you need to be aware of, but then we already had various systems in place for data protection, such as the Data Protection Act 1998 and Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS/TPS), so really this is just an extension.
What you need to be aware of is that names and emails for directors, officers, or anyone from a company counts as personal data. It is information that can identify an individual. And although you can find these at Companies House, on LinkedIn or even on a company’s own website it is all about how you use that data, and as this is personal data it means you cannot just send out emails or telephone a named person without their express permission to do so.
What you can’t do:
- Telephone/email a named person in a company (without their permission).
- Telephone the company and ask to speak directly with a named person (without their permission).
- Transfer permission to someone else, ie if you have been given permission to phone/email a named director, you cannot then pass that permission to someone else to use.
What you can do:
- Telephone a company and ask to speak to the person in a specific post, eg ‘the company secretary’, ‘the HR manager’, etc. Once you have been put through you can then ask that person if you can contact them directly by phone/email.
- Contact a company via their website ‘contact us’ information, and ask for your enquiry to be forwarded to the relevant person/position.
Obviously, the above is by no means all you need to know, so to find out the details you can check guidance on the legislation via https://www.gov.uk (government’s website) and you can use the Library’s ‘Law and Business’ database for a commentary on law pertaining to business.
Wendy Foster (Business Librarian at City Business Library)