The other month, I was invited to be part of a collaboration of female entrepreneurs, a virtual summit.
The goal for this collaboration is simple: Build each other’s email list fast.
How? All the co-presenters will promote the event to their respective audiences, who will then opt-in once to the main host’s website.
The email addresses of all participants will then be shared with all those who presented.
I had to turn down the invitation.
WAIT, SAFE LIST WHAT??? — yep, same reaction I got from the host.
WHAT IS A SAFE LIST?
The EU and Switzerland categorize countries depending on their data privacy rules.
Countries with very weak data privacy laws in place (and therefore, lacking protection) are considered “UNSAFE” ,and those with strong data privacy laws in place are considered “SAFE.”
As a rule, if you are in Switzerland and in the EU, you should not transfer any personal data to countries that are considered “UNSAFE” for obvious reasons.
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS?
When you are collaborating with other people (ex. Joint workshops, summits) wherein you collect personal information (email, names), of course, the expectation is that you are going to share some of the personal information with collaborators and co-speakers. After all, that is the main point of the collaboration: email list growth.
If your collaborator is not from a safe list or, worse, not legally compliant at all, then you are exposing your leads and clients to potential data breaches.
There is no question that you have the obligation to protect any data that you collect. Does your obligation end there?
Back to the invitation I got — -
Since the main host is not legally compliant and also from an unsafe country (the United States of America — surprised?). I cannot expose my audience to such risks. You shouldn’t as well.
This becomes more tedious in cases of summits where there are several co-presenters because you have to check each one of them.
In a perfect world, entrepreneurs should make sure that they are compliant before presenting themselves as a collaborator so as not to endanger other entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO THEN?
Before collaborating, check your collaborators’ compliance. Do they have the proper policies in place, at the very least?
If they are not compliant, insist on compliance first. This will minimize the legal drama and pointing fingers later on.
If they are from unsafe countries and they cannot guarantee that they put in place safety measures for your audiences’ personal data, then it is best not to share personal information. Unfortunately, this also defeats the main goal of the collaboration.
At the minimum, you need to exercise due diligence. If it is within your power to prevent exposing your audiences’ data to possible breaches, exercise that power. Be a good business owner! That is how you will build a business that can be trusted.
WHAT IF YOU WANT TO PROCEED WITH THE COLLABORATION?
Of course, it is an option for you just to inform your audience that if they opt-in and join this summit or collaboration project, their data will be transferred to, collected, or processed in a UNSAFE country. I don’t know about you, but I am not particularly proud of promoting something that will potentially harm my audience. But then again, at the end of the day, it’s your choice!
Do you know who is included in Switzerland and the EU’s safe list? Comment “SAFE” below.
Hi! I am Vena Verga-Danemar, an Onlinepreneur Legal Strategist. I am both a licensed lawyer and an Online Business Owner.
I helped dozens of my students legally start and grow their coaching business using a simplified strategy that doesn’t require spending all your time on your business 24/7. If you are a coach, course creator, or an online service-based business owner, I can help you.