Simon Clayton, chief ideas officer at RefTech, on the importance of personal data protection and the launch of a new white paper.
The UK has had data protection legislation for nearly 20 years. Yet companies are still failing to protect the personal data they collect.
Every week it seems we hear of another database that has been hacked meaning that people’s personal data has been acquired by criminals who are selling it on. But why should this matter to those of us in the exhibitions industry?
Simply put, because trade shows in particular rely on personal data. Organisers need it to monitor the success of their shows. Exhibitors need it for their post-show sales activities.
Personal data – the information provided when people register for a show – is at the heart of the exhibition industry.
Yet how many exhibition organising companies provide proper protection for the personal data they collect? More important still, how many understand fully their legal obligations in this area?
It can seem daunting but, as with health and safety regulations, every organiser of every exhibition needs to understand data protection. Apart from the damage to reputations when data is stolen, the penalties for failing to protect personal data are likely to increase dramatically soon. New legislation that is likely to become law within the next few years will increase fines to a maximum of €20M or four per cent of turnover – whichever is higher.
Data protection is something that I believe passionately should be recognised as critically important in our industry. That’s why we have commissioned a white paper that sets out the facts that you need in order to stay on the right side of the law such as where data can be stored, the ins and outs of encryption, the ways in which passwords can be made more secure and how long personal data can be retained. It will even explain some of the changes that we’re likely to see over the next couple of years.
It will be published next month and will be free to the exhibition industry.
The white paper is intended to answer the questions you may already have about data security. If you don’t have any questions, I hope the white paper will convince you that you need to think about data security. And think about whether you are taking the proper steps to protect the personal information that you gather about your registrants. And think about the potential consequences of doing nothing.