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Don’t be silenced… we got it wrong

The new laws on data protection coming into force on May 25th are a good thing for all of us. They give us all control of how our data is used and we welcome that.

The strength of Amnesty International lies in the numbers of people who are part of our movement. Being able to contact people and engage them in human rights work is central to how we make change happen.

The new data protection laws mean that we need people to actively tell us that they would like to remain in contact with us by email and potentially also phone. We were concerned that if people were not aware of this or didn't realise that they needed to do it because they were already Amnesty supporters, then they would accidentally lose touch with us.   

Indeed, this worry was borne out by our research with supporters. Many people hadn't realised that this law was coming and did not want human rights work to accidentally lose out because of it.

With this worry in mind, we wanted to make it really clear to supporters that they needed to act for us to keep in touch. Hence the strong approach that we took. We developed a set of creative approaches of which 'Don't be silenced' was one.  We researched these various creatives with supporter focus groups. 'Don't be silenced' was by far the strongest in this research.

What we did not see, in developing all of this is that especially in the shortened form, the creative might give the impression that we are against the laws itself and potentially conflates this new law with censorship.

This concern was raised by colleagues and others on social media when we first tested this creative. We can see the problem that they have raised and we stopped using this creative immediately.

We of course still need to encourage people to take action and let us know if they want us to contact them, but the tone we will use in the future will be much more positive.

Data protection laws are crucial to empower people online and ensure that they remain in control of their information. The change in the law might make it more difficult for NGOs like us to reach out to people but it won't make it harder for people to speak out. And we are very glad of that.