A Guide to Adhering to Data Privacy when Using an Email List

Data privacy is a hot topic in the tech world right now. If you are an email marketer, using the email list to send out campaigns, data privacy should be a major concern for you. There are laws regarding this all over the world and adhering to these laws not only saves your campaign from any trouble but also ensures the efficacy of your emails.

Email addresses can contain a person’s personal information. Some emails especially business emails can reveal a person’s full name, designation and of course their organization’s name. Therefore, it is imperative to protect the privacy of the people in your lists. Of course, not all emails use personal names but nonetheless, it is your duty to follow the privacy protection laws set in your country. Whether you purchased a list or built it yourself, it is important to adhere to the privacy of the subscribers.

Know the Laws

Many countries have laws pertaining to email marketers. These laws must be followed or your campaigns will face legal repercussions. In the United States of America, the CAN-SPAM ACT is an anti-spam act taken to stop companies from spamming individuals. This law requires email marketers to include in their emails a link to unsubscribe and physical address of the company.

Similarly in the UK, the Data Protection Act which was passed in 1998 should be followed. It specifies the ways the data can be collected and used by online marketers. There are 8 principles in the act which must be followed by email marketers or otherwise face high penalties and fines.

The gist of these eight rules is that the data should be used lawfully and should be relevant to your purpose. It also specifies that it should not be kept longer than necessary. And it must not be transferred to another country without the subscriber’s consent and should be protected at all costs.

In Europe, the Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations requires the sender to not hide their identity, opt out option and some information about the company. Such laws regarding email marketing and data privacy have been created all over the world. You must search for the laws pertaining to your country and region and follow them firmly in all your campaigns.

Create a Privacy Policy

This is required by law in some places but is a good practice in general too. A privacy policy includes information about your organization, and how you use someone’s email address and any other private information for that matter. Your privacy policy lists any laws or regulations you adhere to when emailing your subscribers.

You not only collect the users’ email addresses but many times you are also collecting other behavioral information about your subscribers like when the user opens the email or which links he clicks? These facts should be mentioned in detail in your privacy policy.

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The benefits of privacy policy are many:

  • You declare that you are complying with the laws and regulations of data privacy
  • You do not hide any of your intentions or uses of a person’s email from them
  • The subscribers know what purpose their data may be used for
  • The subscribers start to trust the sender

A link to your privacy policy should be included in all your emails. The standard position is the footer of your email and it should be clearly visible. Your actual privacy policy can reside on your own website or a third party’s website.

Here is one of our blog post on Best Email Marketing Practices other than adhering to data privacy when using an email list.

Protect Your List

You need to protect your list from attacks because these emails classify as private information of individuals and hence must be protected. You must protect your mailing list from hackers using it to send out viruses and spam emails.

Read this guide from Google about protecting your lists. You also must not transfer the email list to another country. You must ensure that you have gained provable consent from the users in the list before giving the emails to a source in a foreign land.

For those who buy lists, it is important to verify the vendor because you may be getting your hands on someone’s email which is a matter of data protection. If your source is reputable and authentic, there will be lesser chances of getting embroiled in a privacy breach issue.


Why should you care about data privacy?

Law Requirement

You are required by law to adhere to data privacy and protecting the emails with you. If you do not comply with these regulations, the legal consequences can cause you a lot of trouble and a lot of money. Governments now take crimes in the online world very seriously. Therefore, it is crucial for the security of your own business too that you understand and comply fully with the laws relevant to your location.

Reputation & Trust

Your reputation as a company is on the line too. If you cannot protect something as basic as an email, why should anyone trust you with, say their credit card information. Your reputation will sink if people who subscribed to receive emails from you learn that their email addresses have been compromised. 68% of Americans reported that they open an email based on who it is from.

Customer Satisfaction

This is a product of customer’s trust in your organization. Securing their emails and applying adequate privacy will ensure customer satisfaction. Keeping your list protected from hackers will lead to complete customer satisfaction. People will consider your emails as secure and authentic.


Data privacy should be an important aspect of your email list. Whether you bought the list or use a permission-based list, you must ensure that the privacy of your subscribers is maintained. If your list is compromised, make sure to take appropriate steps and inform the subscribers and report the event to proper authorities. In all cases, install proper protection and use reputable email service providers.