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AFS Review: Notes

Is Your Email Server “Protecting You” from AFS Messages?

Thursday, March 28, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lorraine Cashman

If so, this could affect your proposal submission experience.

Many people have already registered for the 2019 Annual Meeting in Baltimore without experiencing any issues—hooray!

However, some people have not received the email that confirms their registration and contains the link to the Proposal Submission Portal, due to tighter filters on email platforms in this era of heightened data privacy concerns.

If you intend to submit a proposal this weekend, please start the process now to make sure that you can access the Submission Portal when you need it; if you can’t get to your proposal form, contact us during business hours so that we can help. Staff will be out of the office by 5 pm Friday, March 29.

Why is this happening? The world is catching up to the implementation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May of 2018 that raises the bar for protecting personal data. GDPR is a law, but it’s also just part of a more widely-held concern to protect you and ensure your control over your own personal data! You may have noticed that when you visit websites now, there is a pop-up that asks you to confirm that you approve the use of cookies. That’s a sign that organizations are moving to heighten protections on user data.

Likewise, AFS is requiring all program participants to register and submit their own personal information (instead of making the chair of the panel do it). This gives you the opportunity to opt-in to receive communications about the annual meeting from AFS, and to control whether your personal contact information is published in the annual meeting program.

However, a result of the new law and widespread concern is that there are increased firewalls and barrier settings on all service providers who deal with personal data. This means that you may not be receiving emails that you wish to receive, including the automatic emails that AFS systems generate to confirm your membership, registration and proposal submission. They could be in your spam folder, or they could have been blocked by your email server before they even got to your inbox!

One other thing to note is that if your email server (or your organization's email server) blocks a message, AFS staff members don’t get bounce back emails alerting us that you have not received it. Please add and to your email contacts, and consider contacting tech support at your institution to report that emails you do wish to receive have been blocked. Everyone is implementing these security measures all at once, and thus many service providers are addressing these issues.

While huge companies like Amazon have an entire team devoted to handling this new batch of GDPR issues, AFS has a staff of just a few people. However, we are happy to help! If you experience any issues around receiving confirmation emails, feel free to call us. We are an office of friendly humans who want to make sure that you get to Baltimore! If you contact us on Friday, we’ll help you with the next steps. On April 1, we will work with anyone who has made a good faith effort to get in before the March 31 deadline.

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