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Written by Finn Ruijter, 23 June 2021

Watch out: Mailchimp violates AVG rules

Mailchimp is a popular e-mail newsletter tool for organizations with small to medium-sized contact lists. This email marketing software may have attractive features, but it turns out that Mailchimp is not AVG-proof.

For companies, this can create unpleasant situations, as we saw in Germany earlier this year. There, a company was banned from using Mailchimp to send emails to customers. It did not come to a fine, but this set a precedent. Don’t leave it at that, but switch to another email service provider (ESP) in a timely manner.

The AVG, what is that again?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), known at the European level as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), dates back to 2016. In that year, it was decided by the EU that personal data needed to be better protected.

What that means? Citizens need to know why their data is being collected and how it is being processed. No more data should be collected than is strictly necessary. Also, the data subject must be able to easily remove himself or herself from the database.

Privacy Shield declared invalid

In 2016, agreements were reached between Europe and the United States on privacy protection for European citizens. The so-called Privacy Shield regulation was applied by Email Service Providers such as Mailchimp on the assumption that Europeans’ data was being properly processed and stored.

In July 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union declared the Privacy Shield invalid. After all, U.S. intelligence agencies may have access to cloud services in the U.S., which could compromise the privacy of Europeans. That meant that, in addition to Mailchimp, a variety of other U.S. services were no longer allowed to store European personal data. And conversely, that EU companies were no longer allowed to use American services like Mailchimp.

It finally took until March 2021 for a European company to be taken to task for using such a U.S. service. And although the ruling took place in Germany, the same AVG applies in the Netherlands. Anyone is now free to sue companies (e.g., competitors) for using Mailchimp.

The risk of continuing to use Mailchimp

In the German company’s example, it remained a warning. It is possible that it will be the same way with the first Dutch offense. The maximum penalty for violating the AVG is well known: 20 million euros fine or 4% of annual global turnover. Of course, you don’t want to take such a risk. Finding an alternative to Mailchimp is much more economical.

By the way, it’s not just Mailchimp that’s the problem. All kinds of other cloud services in the US no longer meet the guidelines. The wait now is for a new agreement between the U.S. and the EU; a successor to the Privacy Shield that will allow companies like yours to once again use U.S.

Switching to a European email newsletter tool

If you currently use Mailchimp, then a recipient of your emails can therefore sue you. To avoid that, switch to a vendor with an e-mail newsletter tool from the European Union. And if you do opt for a European service, you might want to check out the offerings in the Netherlands. Having a dashboard and support in your own language is just a little bit easier to work with.

Spotler: customer data safely stored in the Netherlands

As WordPress specialists for large organizations, we are always looking for the best solutions for our clients. Security and privacy are of paramount importance here. For email marketing, therefore, we partnered with Spotler. This Dutch e-mail marketing tool has made AVG-proof mailing a top priority. The customer data you collect with Spotler is also securely stored in the Netherlands.

Not only will you have everything around legislation right with this. Also, with this software you have functionalities such as creating target groups, running A/B tests and company recognition. So perfect for B2B marketers. Want to know more? Contact 2manydots for a demo.