Safe Harbour ruling implications for UK and EU exhibitions

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What has happened?

The European Court of Justice recently (October 2015) ruled that the framework that allowed European data to flow to the USA was invalid. This all started when an Austrian Law student complained that his personal data on Facebook was not being protected on web servers in the USA. This was covered widely in the national and technology press including the BBC - How worried is Silicon Valley about Safe Harbour, Guardian - Safe harbour ruling illustrates growing chasm between US and EU and TechCrunch.

 

What are the implications for UK/EU exhibitions?

It is still early days and companies and lawyers either side of the pond will be frantically working out the implications. However, if you transfer personal data of your registrants to the USA under the Safe Harbour framework, either yourself or via a supplier, you will need to pay attention to developments.

 

How do I know if I am doing this?

Typically you might be doing this if you are using a US based supplier for any of your activities, including...

  • direct mail
  • marketing emails
  • email automation
  • registration
  • social registration and marketing
  • tech support
  • crm

It is worth asking these US suppliers if they rely on the Safe Harbour framework. 

With so many services in the cloud it is increasingly difficult to tell where data actually resides, so it is worth asking your UK suppliers too.

 

What are the implications for GleanIn?

While we might often get confused for a US company we are most definitely not. We are based in the UK, and all our support and development staff are in the UK. All personal data we process on behalf of our exhibition clients remains in the EU.

 

Conclusions

This is not the last we have heard. The European Court of Justice has shown a willingness to take on even the mightiest of US tech companies in Facebook in the pursuit of the protection of europeans' data. 

There are no clear recommendations at the moment. It looks like the options you have are to stick with your suppliers who are making use of the US-EU safe harbour framework (better than US suppliers who are not) and hope a solution is found, or find local alternatives.

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