April is National Home Inventory Month: Find out more
28 Dec 2018

A Review of 2018

2018 was a very busy year, welcoming new members and congratulating more members who achieved their CIS and CAE certifications. Additionally, two major efforts were achieved this year.

Website upgrades and edits

We made many changes to our NICA website. Since these updates were “behind the scenes” so to speak, you might not be aware of our continued investment in time and funds to keep our website compliant. We are pleased that we were able to meet the deadlines on all requirements. These website changes include:

  • The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance. This requires that all people with disabilities be able to access all website information. Examples are 1) words must be associated with each photo for those who use a reader, 2) being able to use a keyboard for those who cannot use a mouse, 3) elimination of certain colors that are not allowed due to those with color blindness, etc. 
  • Assuring members and visitors that our website is secure. The Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is the secure version of HTTP. This is the protocol over which data is sent between a browser and the website. The “s” indicates that it is encrypted. Any website that is not secure is or will be identified by search engines placing messages such as “Not secure” in the url bar, notifying the person visiting that site that the transfer of information is not encrypted.
  • Meeting new requirements in data protection laws. The biggest change in 20 years, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) established requirements to assure anyone who enters personal information (signing up for the newsletter, purchasing courses) via the website that their information will be used only for that purpose. This guarantees that we will not share their information. 

(If your website does not meet these 3 items, we recommend that you contact Associate Member Mary Gillen (mary@marygillen.com) to discuss what is needed to update your website.)

National Home Inventory Month

NICA organized and established April as National Home Inventory Month. This effort can be utilized to bring awareness to our industry as well as to each of our members’ individual home inventory businesses.

There are a variety of ways each home inventory professional can participate and provide education about this initiative. A few suggestions to participate in April are:

  • Offer a “Home Inventory Month Discount” on residential inventory services
  • Post information on social media, including the hashtags #HomeInventory and #NationalHomeInventoryMonth
  • Add “April is National Home Inventory Month” to your email signature line
  • Host an informational seminar or presentation
  • Participate in trade shows or vendor fairs in late March or April

The committee will reconvene in February to review what was accomplished last year and add any new ideas or efforts for this year’s National Home Inventory Month. If you would like to be on the committee this year, please send an email to the NICA officeand we’ll be in touch.

Complete information about this effort is here.

25 Apr 2018

Do You Distribute An Electronic Newsletter? This Is A Must Read!

E-newslettersNICA’s Associate Member Mary Gillen is an exceptional web developer and internet “go-to professional.” She always stays up to date with the ever-changing landscape of the internet. If you send out electronic newsletters, this article, written by Mary, is full of important and time-sensitive information.

New European Privacy Rules – The General Data Protection Regulation – take effect May 25, 2018.

These regulations were passed by the European Union in 2016, setting new rules for how companies manage and share personal data. In theory, the GDPR only applies to EU citizens’ data, but the global nature of the internet means that nearly every online service is affected, and the regulation has already resulted in significant changes for US users as companies scramble to adapt.

The GDPR sets a higher bar for obtaining personal data than we’ve ever seen on the internet before. These requirements include:

  1. Any time a company collects personal data on an EU citizen, it will need explicit and informed consent from that person.
  2. Users also need a way to revoke that consent, and they can request all the data a company has from them as a way to verify that consent. It’s a lot stronger than existing requirements, and it explicitly extends to companies based outside the EU. For an industry that’s used to collecting and sharing data with little to no restriction, that means rewriting the rules of how user info is collected online and stored.

Most importantly, the GDPR gives companies a hard deadline: the new rules go into effect on May 25th, 2018 – so if you’re not following the rules by then, you’re in trouble. The result has been a mad dash to adapt current practices to the new rules and avoid one of those crushing fines. 

You are probably thinking, “I just do local home inventories, so this doesn’t apply to me.” This is addressing what happens to information when someone signs up for your newsletter. Since there is no control over who subscribes (or from where), it is imperative to abide by these rules.

What You Need to Do Now If You Have an Email Newsletter Subscription Form on Your Website

Email consent needs to be separate. Never bundle consent with your terms and conditions, privacy notices, or any of your services, unless email consent is necessary to complete that service. A solution is to add an (unticked) checkbox to the bottom of your subscription form just before the Submit button. The explanation needs to be simple and understandable. The checkbox needs to be a required element on the form, which means the user will not be allowed to submit the information on the form unless the checkbox is selected.

What You Need to Do If You Have Contact Forms on Your Website

Add an (unticked) checkbox to the bottom of your Contact Form just before the Submit button with a consent message to collect and store the data.

GDPR not only sets the rules for how to collect consent but also requires companies to keep a record of these consents. It is important to know that this does not only apply to signups that happen after May 25th, it applies to all existing subscribers on your email list as well.

If your existing subscribers have given consent in a way that’s already compliant with GDPR—and if you kept a record of those consents—there’s no need for you to re-collect consent from those subscribers. If your existing records don’t meet GDPR requirements, however, you have to take action.

What to do:
  1. Audit your existing email list. Figure out who on your email list already provided GDPR-compliant consent, and ensure that you have a clear record of those consents.
  2. Implement a re-permission program. If for any of your contacts you don’t have GDPR-proof of consent—or if you are unsure about whether or not their consent is compliant—you’ll have to run a re-permission campaign to refresh that consent or remove the subscriber from your mailing list.

This is a lot to digest. Please feel free to contact Mary with your questions. Also, please pass this information on to other website owners you may know. It is important that they receive this information as well.

If you need help implementing these changes on your website, Mary can help you, and can also assist you in creating a mailing for a re-permission program. Please don’t ignore this. Make these changes before the May 25th deadline.