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Reconfirming your email subscription

Readers of The Legal Genealogist who only see this blog when they come to the website or in their own feed reader, you can go ahead and go back to whatever you were doing.

Today’s blog is not for you.

Today’s blog is for the thousands of loyal readers1 who subscribe to receive the blog by email.

GDPR emailA few of you get it via a service called Jetpack Subscriptions, a service of Automattic, the same company that puts out a lot of the elements needed to keep a blog like this up and running, including the WordPress platform on which most blogs are built.

The vast majority of you get it via a service called Feedburner, a Google subscription service.

And in both cases, when you signed up to get the blog, you probably had to go through a two-step process: you clicked on something on the website and then clicked again when you got an email asking you to confirm your subscription.

Guess what?

Yep.

You get to do it again.

Aren’t you lucky?

Here’s the deal. As we’ve been discussing all week, there’s a new European Union (EU) privacy initiative which takes effect at the end of this week called the General Data Protection Regulation — GDPR for short.

Except that there’s nothing “short” about it: it’s 99 separate articles in 11 chapters that need another 173 recitals to explain what the articles and chapters are supposed to mean and how they’ll be enforced.2

And if there’s any common thread that runs through all of the parts of the GDPR, it’s that personally-identifying information like names and email addresses can’t be collected, stored or used without (a) the consent of the person whose name or email it is and (b) proof that consent was given.

I have the first part: you couldn’t have signed up to receive the blog by email without giving consent.

But, alas, when you gave that consent, the systems I’ve been using didn’t collect the second part, or at least not in a form that I can access: if I’m ever challenged by anybody who gets an email copy of the blog and doesn’t want it, I can’t prove I got consent.

Now you know and I know that a free genealogy blog like this one that doesn’t sell anything (including name or address lists) isn’t likely to be the first regulatory target of the EU data privacy police.3

But if just one malcontent in an EU country like Bulgaria decides to play hardball and file a complaint, I might have to defend myself half a world away… with all the costs that entails and without the evidence I need to be sure I wouldn’t face a fine that — in an absolute worst case scenario — could reach 10 million Euro ($11,779,880 as of yesterday at 1 p.m. EDT).

So I don’t really think I have a choice but to be proactive here, and make sure that the only people who get the blog by email are getting it because they personally have given consent — and consent that I can prove they gave.

That’s a very long apology-and-explanation for the fact that you will be getting more of what must seem by now to be an unending stream of emails asking for action because of GDPR. It’ll be from The Legal Genealogist, with the subject “Please reconfirm your email subscription,” using an email system called Mad Mimi from GoDaddy.

The email will explain that confirmation that you really do want to subscribe is needed, and all you need to do is click the button that says “Yes! Keep me signed up, please!” You’ll automatically be added to the new email list at the new email system.4

And — sigh — if you’re ready to throw in the towel, all you have to do is … nothing. Seriously. I will send out three notices, total, so if you miss one, you’ll still have two more chances, but then will be weeding out those who don’t reconfirm.

If you do stay on the email list, you’ll always be able to change your mind, and the new email system makes it easy. At the bottom of every email you get will be buttons that will let you changes your preferences (including the email address you want the blog sent to) or unsubscribe altogether.5

If you don’t reconfirm and then come to regret your hasty choice,6 you’ll always be able to change your mind about that, too. On the right hand side of any blog post at The Legal Genealogist is a button labeled “Subscribe by Email,” and clicking that will start the sign-up process at the new mail system.

Got that? You’ll get an email. Click on the button to stay on the list, and all that’ll change will be the email system that sends the blog out.

Onward into the Brave New World…


Note: The blogs this week on what this website is doing about the GDPR and compliance are not intended as legal advice. I can’t even say that taking these steps will make this site fully compliant, so I certainly can’t say that following the same or similar steps will make any other website compliant. Do your research, use your best judgment and maybe do the one other thing we’re all doing right now: cross your fingers…


SOURCES

  1. Has The Legal Genealogist said thank you lately? I really do thank you for all your support and loyalty over the years.
  2. For the complete text in English, see General Data Protection Regulation, Intersoft Consulting (https://gdpr-info.eu/ : accessed 22 May 2018).
  3. At least I don’t think we’d be big targets…
  4. Which means, by the way, that the emails will look a little different than what you’re used to, but you’ll sure know they’re from The Legal Genealogist (logo and header graphic and all), so no worries.
  5. You wouldn’t really do that, would you?
  6. I was going to say “foolish choice,” but hey… I’m trying to be nice here.
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