After all these years talking about data protection, you’d have thought that there would be a clear consensus of how companies should process personal data. The last couple of months, however, show that data protection is still one of the biggest challenges for marketers, even within the B2B space.

The big news has surrounded the European “right to be forgotten”. After a high profile case in Spain, newspapers have claimed that a number of rather unsavoury characters have tried to use this to have results about them removed from Google’s index. Some media companies are also worrying about the implications of individuals being able to tell them which stories they can and cannot publish online.

Of course it’s impossible to ensure that things are “forgotten” – in fact the EU recognised this, and rather than having a right to be forgotten, EU citizens actually have the rather more sinister-sounding “right to erasure”.

Whilst some people consider the data protection legislation in Europe to be rather onerous, the EU continues to look at ways to strengthen it, with some warning of an impending “data disaster” for businesses.

At the same time as Europe is limiting the way data can be used, Yahoo! has decided to no longer support “Do Not Track” (DNT) browser settings. With Facebook and Google choosing not to respond to DNT requests, it’s perhaps inevitable that Yahoo! decided that its commercial future outweighed the importance of responding to requests from consumers. Whatever the realities, the move seems almost perfectly timed to highlight the difference in culture on each side of the Atlantic.

It will be interesting to see how things turn out. For many European marketers, many of whom would agree that there needs to be be some limits on cold-calling consumers at home, the European approach feels draconian and anti-business. It will be interesting to see if the restrictions will be watered-down by either the EU or national governments: if not, then perhaps the removal of much of the direct marketing channel in Europe might provide an opportunity for publishers to take back some of the marketing budget that has moved away from advertising in recent years.