What happens when you ‘unsubscribe’?

You’ve clicked the ‘unsubscribe’ button. So, now what happens to your email address? If you are sending emails to customers then you need to understand every step of the process and the legalities behind protecting their data. Luckily, the team at Sapphire Consulting are here to help you.

Where does my email address go when I unsubscribe? 

Is it just deleted? Does it go into cyberspace? The answer is: no, it isn’t deleted.  Your email goes to what’s called a ‘suppression list’. A suppression list is a list of emails where the owner doesn’t want marketing communications. 

Unless you can remember everyone who has opted out, you will need to have a suppression list. The platform you use for creating and sending emails should be able to store this data for you. If not, you will have to ensure that you safely store the emails of those who unsubscribe. 

Is it legal to keep email addresses after someone unsubscribes?

Holding emails in a suppression list when someone has opted out is lawful. Your legal basis is legitimate interest — it is in your legitimate interest to hold that person’s email so that you don’t send them emails in the future and run afoul of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).

A person can object to you holding their email in a suppression list after they have opted out but you can decline their request to remove the email.

Do I need to have a suppression list for unsubscribers?

It is good practice to have a suppression list. Just make sure that you tell people in your Privacy Notice that you have one and are using legitimate interest as the legal basis. 

You will need to have a retention period for your suppression list and this will depend upon your business requirements. It is always important to check the legalities for your specific industry, and if you are unsure, contact a DPO for advice. 

Protect your business with a data protection officer

At Sapphire Consulting, we endeavour to help clear up any misconceptions when it comes to protection of data. We speak in plain English to help you understand the process and the exact steps you need to take for your business. If you have any questions with regard to data protection, we can help. Our team of professionals has years of experience and are happy to answer them all. Get in touch with us today for a free consultation.

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