UK DMA to Hold Data Protection Conference

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The British Direct Marketing Association will hold a one-day conference on data protection in London on March 8 featuring Elisabeth France, the United Kingdom's data commissioner.


Many UK companies "remain confused over their obligations under the Data Protection Act of 1998" and could find themselves threatened with enforcement action, the DMA said in a statement announcing the conference.


It noted that the act -- an adaptation into British law of the European Union's data protection directive -- went into effect a year ago and has left many British firms confused about its implications.


"The growth of new technologies such as the Internet, e-mail and [short message service] add further challenges," the DMA said.


Any company gathering or using "personal information for market purposes must ensure they are aware of complying with the act, especially as the period of transitional relief ends in October this year," according to the DMA.


The grace period was designed to help direct marketers familiarize themselves with the new law, but the DMA argues that the period of time was not sufficient and that many companies did not use it effectively.


"Issues such as the transfer of data outside the European Economic Area, increased controls over data processing, new express provisions relating to opt-out clauses and other provisions under the telecommunications regulations are dominating EU debate and highlight the complexities companies face with compliance," the DMA said.


"The confusion that seems to surround data protection is a concern for the DMA," said legal affairs director Jo Whyte, "not only as direct marketers now face [the] very real possibility of action being taken against them, but as we see even more legislation on the horizon to cope with the massive implications of e-commerce."


The conference will be held at the London Marriott on Grosvenor Square. The telephone number is 011 44 207 766 4408. The e-mail address for the event is Janet@dma.org.uk.


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