Most of us have been flooded with GDPR (privacy update) emails, so what exactly is GDPR? Why is everyone sending these emails? How does GDPR affect you? We will try to answer these questions, and more.
It is no secret that most companies collect customer data because the more you know about someone, the better your chances are of converting them into customers. And in the world where improving a conversion rate by a few percentages can mean millions of dollars in additional revenue, it is no surprise why we are in the middle of a data gold rush. A gold rush that doesn’t have a lot of regulations around it.
What is GDPR?
GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) as the name suggests is a data protection regulation introduced by the European Union to put more guidelines on privacy and how personal data is used and exported.
What exactly are GDPR regulations trying to do?
In summary, GDPR will make your data private by default. In other words, your data is private until you take a specific action (e.g. edit privacy settings) to share it. Before GDPR your data was not private by default; hence you had to go into your privacy settings to stop organizations from collecting and sharing your data. This is a subtle but fundamental change, considering most people do not read or change their privacy settings.
Also, GDPR prevents companies from collecting information about your ethnicity, race, religion, political views, sexual orientation and so on. With GDPR, organizations now have to get your approval before collecting such information. In addition, GDPR allows you (user) to delete this information; for example, you can remove your data before deleting your social media account.
Who is affected by GDPR?
Everyone in the European Union using services such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, and Netflix, just to name a few.
Will this type of regulation come to the US?
Historically, Europeans have always been more concerned about their privacy. Therefore they are usually at the forefront of many privacy regulatory changes. Will this type of law be implemented in the US? It’s difficult to stay, but some companies like Facebook have already announced plans to implement a variation of GDPR for US citizens. In other words, they will not wait for US lawmakers. This is a good step by Facebook, and hopefully, other companies follow as well.
What should you do next?
It’s important to keep in mind that GDPR only applies to European Union (at least for now), so spend a few minutes checking your privacy settings, especially for free services, because many of them have monetized their free product with advertising dollars and your data.
In conclusion, GDPR is the right step in protecting personal data. As marketers, we always want more customer data because it allows us to create better/personalized experiences. However, good marketers don’t want to trick customers into sharing their personal data, so GDPR regulations are needed and welcome.
For more information: General Data Protection Regulation Websiteand GDPR (PDF) document