Last Updated on March 12, 2021 by Filip Poutintsev
Picture this phrase:” You can do it if you have the permission”. What does it bring to your mind? Something that parents would say to their little child or something written in the law-book?
Unfortunately, it’s both. Because today such an absurd application is found regarding legislation of the use of personal data. I’m not sure how exactly it happened, probably due to the heavy lobbying of some organization and companies. But it’s here anyway.
How to prove the consent?
The irrationality is not only juridical but also in common practice. How does one prove he has permission from an individual to do something? A signed documents at the notary, legalized by apostille? That would do it, but it would also be extremely expensive and difficult to do, when you have data from thousands of people.
So the other and the most common way to do it? You all know it: gather users IP and time-stamp. But what does it actually prove? That you know the users IP and put some random date? The person will still not remember he signed up for your newsletter, so after some time, you might get an email from him with an angry subject line: “why are you spamming me?” Then you send him the IP he used, only to find out that it’s not his real IP anymore, because: his home/office IP is not static (as it’s usually not), he moved out, or he signed up from WiFi in a coffee shop etc. Now you can’t prove anything. And even if you did have his true IP, he can still complain to a government person data protection agency, your ISP (hosting company), or some useless spam-fighting organization. In most cases, they will believe him, not you, even without the proof.
You did everything right but still got into trouble?
Well, because the law is absurd, and it’s very difficult to enforce an absurd law.
One may ask, how many would actually go through the trouble of complaining over some ads they received just because they forgot if they signed up for a newsletter or not? Then I will ask you how many will complain over so-called “real” spam, because often you cannot tell the difference between spam and not spam. The answer to both questions is the same: Not many, and those people you would not want to be your clients anyway because they are complainers by nature, are always unhappy and picky, no matter what you do.