New European Regs will hit US dealers/brokers

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The Southwest Florida Marine Industry Association has just alerted its members about changing European Union regulations on data privacy that can impact dealers/brokers, and it all becomes effective tomorrow (May 25, 2018).

Specifically concerned that its members are not aware of the changes, SWFMIA has distributed an in-depth report written by industry veteran Len Garafoli, co-owner of Pier One Yacht Sales & Charters that has 5 offices throughout Florida. Clearly, with today’s digital marketing capabilities, many US dealers, brokers and charterers can and do easily reach out to Europeans.

Concerned, then, that this isn’t widely known, we present Garafoli’s full SWFMIA report to alert other industry members of these EU changes and, therefore, avoid becoming the object of some future negative legal actions:

Dear SWFMIA Member,

As the owner of pier one yacht sales and member of the SWFMIA, this coming may 25th is going to be a very important date to all of us that send out emails to clients as well as fellow brokerage and charter industry professionals.

On May 25, 2018, the European Union (EU) will put into place a newEuropean privacy law called the general data protection regulation (GDPR). Since our businesses receive leads & consumer data from many different sources, it’s important that you understand the impact of this new regulation and know what is going to be required by all of us as owners as well as our sales & management associates.

GDPR impacts all companies selling to and storing personal information about users in Europe as well as EU citizens living any where in the world. It provides EU citizens with greater control over their personal data and assurances that their information is being securely protected. The regulation puts the consumer in the driver’s seat, and the task of complying falls upon businesses and organizations, even if you are in the USA.

What are the basics: If we receive an email or lead from a customer asking for information on a certain vessel, we can respond via email or phone, giving them the information they’re requesting. If it turns into a sale or listing, great! However, if it does not and later, whether it be one month, six months or a year from now and you reach out to the customer with an idea for another vessel or even information on the vessel they contacted you on originally, you could be in violation of this new law.

If you send a marketing email to your client that lives here in the U.S. but it turns out that he is a citizen of the EU, you are in violation. If you send a marketing email to your client or business that’s located in the islands and that island is governed by a country of the EU, it’s a violation.

According to this new law, we have to send each one of our clients, new clients or businesses we work with, an email or letter asking them to either opt in to receive emails or opt out.

As a member of the Boats Group Inc. advisory board (owners of yachtworld, boat trader, and yachtcloser) we have had conversations with attorneys in Europe as well as the U.S. to try and fully understand the complexity of this new law. We have all concluded that we are now cruising in unchartered waters and have to take every possible precaution to make sure that there is not someone out there just waiting to get an unsolicited email from one of us so they can file a complaint and get awarded some ridiculous amount of money! I don’t think any of us wants to fight a fine in the courts of an EU country.

Many companies that generate leads for the yachting industry, whether it be for sales or charter, are asking us as the receiver of these leads to sign a data protection agreement that basically indemnifies them and releases them from liability. One obvious question is what happens if one of these companies computer systems get hacked and emails start going out looking like they’re from one of us? Similarly, what happens if our computer system gets hacked and emails start going out looking like they’re from us?

These days, many of us (in the Florida Yacht Brokers Assn. and European business council) are now seeking legal council to get answers to some of these questions, and how we can better protect ourselves, our staff and our companies.

As I learn more I promise to keep everybody up to date. if any of you learn more, please keep us posted. Remember, even though we are competitors in this industry, we are also partners in this industry. 


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