The Sunday Telegraph

Unhappy Christmas on the cards under new data rules

- By Christophe­r Hope

CORPORATE Christmas cards are under threat because new EU data protection rules mean that companies need permission to send seasonal greetings via email.

Festive cards sent out to clients could fall victim to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that came into force this year.

The Institute for Chartered Accountant­s in England and Wales has told its members that the cards can only be sent without the recipient’s consent “if you can justify that you have a legitimate reason to do so”.

MPs who send out Christmas cards to constituen­ts are also being caught by the rules because of the fear that they qualify as unwanted marketing under the rules.

A briefing note sent to accountant­s by the institute asks: “Can we send documentat­ion such as Christmas cards and budget summaries without gaining consent to do so?”

The organisati­on, which represents 150,000 accountant­s and accountanc­y practices, responds: “Only if you can justify that you have a legitimate reason to do so.

“You can rely on legitimate interests if you can show that how you use people’s data is proportion­ate, has a minimal privacy impact, people would not be surprised or likely to object and they are given the means to refuse to receive such documentat­ion in future (NB you must adhere to any such refusal).”

Last night, card manufactur­ers said there was “no need to panic” that overzealou­s Christmas card writing could break the rules.

Sharon Little, chief executive of the Greeting Card Associatio­n, said: “Businesses are still going to be able to send Christmas cards to their customers by post. GDPR will not stop them spreading festive cheer, unless the recipient has specifical­ly objected to receiving marketing from that business.

“Different rules would apply to sending anything which is considered marketing by email – which might prevent sending Christmas e-cards – but who likes receiving these anyway?”

People in Britain buy more cards per person than any other nation – 31 each. Eight out of 10 of these cards are bought by women.

Charities estimate that £50million is raised for good causes through the sales of charity Christmas cards.

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