When you send an email to several people, knowing when to use Blind Carbon Copy (“BCC”) rather than simply “To” or Carbon Copy (“CC”) is essential. Here’s why…
It’s a Matter of Visibility
When you include someone’s details in either the “To” or “CC” section of an email, those details will be visible to everybody who receives that email. However, when you “BCC” somebody into an email, their details remain hidden from everyone.
The implications of this are several-fold and whilst many use the “BCC” facility solely for the purpose of sharing the contents of the email with another person without the other recipients’ knowledge, there are ramifications that go far beyond this “convenient” usage that make knowing when to use BCC essential.
The Data Protection Act and Privacy
When it comes to marketing emails, sales emails, promotion emails, invitation emails, email newsletters and the like, it is absolutely essential that you use the BCC facility rather than CC. To use CC would allow every recipient of your email to see every other CC recipient’s email details.
Notwithstanding the fact that this could cause a whole heap of distress to any number of recipients, it could constitute a breach of the Data Protection Act (DPA) and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) and could land you in very hot water with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
The ICO recently issued a fine to an organisation that breached this rule. The organisation in question sent a newsletter to several people but instead of using BCC, they placed everyone’s email address in the “To” box. This made many peoples’ details visible to many others and constituted a breach of the relevant laws.
In issuing the fine, Steve Eckersley, ICO Head of Enforcement, stated that “We need to send a clear message – no matter how small your organisation, you must make sure staff and volunteers are trained to protect personal data”
Whilst the case in question resulted in a minimal fine being issued, the reasons for this are clearly stated and can be read within the full article Businesses need to think carefully about ensuring their employees know exactly when they must use BCC and our advice, if anyone is unsure, is to contact the ICO for guidance.