It’s been nearly a year since the introduction of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, a “global” law that supposedly is to send us all skipping into a sunny world of spam-less serenity. Since that introduction, I have been paying close attention to what comes into my inbox.
Nine months have passed since the implementation of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, which is concerned with, in EU-speak, “the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data.”
This law, which applies to anyone or anything that works with anyone or anything in the EU, thus making it essentially a worldwide law, is intended to protect how and where personal data is kept.
Data breaches continue to occur in the hotel industry. In November 2018, Marriott International announced a data breach that involved information on up to 500 million guests, a number that was revised down in January 2019 to 383 million records of “potentially involved guests.” Still, a huge number, and I am sure lawyers are still working on the details.
There were breaches before this one, and I imagine there will be others to come.
A breach could result in email addresses being used in ways guests might not wish them to be used.
Continued vigilance is required across the industry to make sure GDPR rights are not infringed and a potentially huge fine imposed.
One important part of GDPR is the right to be forgotten, with data not to be kept for longer than necessary and not to be used other than for the purpose for which it was obtained.
I have no idea how I receive the spam emails I receive, or even if they are spam. Did I somehow sign up to receive them? Did I inadvertently say I wanted them?
So for the last nine months, I have purposefully and dedicatedly opted out of all the spam mail I receive. All this spam comes through my private email address, not my work one, which is not surprising considering the firewalls and more sound IT setups companies enjoy more than individuals do.
This is what I have found:
- Most of the email spam I receive derives from the United States, but that might be because I lived there for 20 years and set up my private email address when a resident and even more clueless about IT than I am now. The one I am looking at now comes from Miami.
- Spam mail generally arrives in groups of three or four that share similarities such as the URL address of the opt-out service that says it will “forget” you. Most arrive in my inbox, not my spam folder.
- The “click here” or “unsubscribe here” link to start the opt-out procedure is always very small and buried at the bottom, but after receiving the first couple hundred spam emails I learned where to find it. I am clever like that.
- On a mobile device this link is even smaller, of course, sometimes so small it cannot be read and it is thus easier to inadvertently press a link to a webpage linked to the spam email, which might—who knows—mean you have inadvertently signed up for hundreds more spam emails. Only a very few “unsubscribe” links automatically allow you to opt out without writing in your email address.
- After I add my email address—the one I want nearly everyone to forget—I see a webpage with the message, “Sometimes we use companies to send emails on our behalf. Forwarding the email helps us determine if the correct email was sent to you and if there were any issues in the sending process.” That sounds like a Pandora’s Box of woe, and I am not going anywhere near it. The address I have been asked to forward it to is firstname.lastname@example.org. (I added the 16 asterisks and have not made this address into a hyperlink, as the last thing I want is for my readers to inadvertently sign up to decades of spam emails, or more spam emails).
- Several spam emails I have unsubscribed from, and from different companies selling different things, use this same link, so what does the Orwellian “we” refer to? I am cynically leaning to the idea it does not refer to the original spam sender. Most URL addresses of companies I see make me believe they are comparison websites.
- After opting out, or hoping I have, occasionally I get a message saying the opt-out procedure might take five to 10 working days. Did it not take me, inadvertently, one second to sign up? So why the delay?
- Several opt-out URL links have told me that I do not have permission to go to that page. What?
- These last few months I started receiving spam emails for hair-dye products, seniors dating websites, health care providers and retirement associations. None of this is good, I feel. My goal of being forgotten by this type of spam, I have been regularly told, takes 10 days to process, and I am not getting any younger.
- On “leaving” one company—never to receive another email from them again, if GDPR laws are stringent enough—on adding the email address I want forgotten up on my computer comes the URL reachcustomer2016.com/oo_confirm.php?hpsrc=pm2, which if you strip out the part after the forward slash is a URL that does not exist.
- After opting out, I do always see a link that one can follow to complain if you receive another spam email from the same company, but good luck if you are disciplined enough to keep track and to double-check.
Have I received fewer spam emails? Well, the flow of new spam seems just as regular, so I really have no idea.
The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Bloggers published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.