So I may be polarising those of you who don’t live in the EU with this – apologies to you guys and gals (I actually love you more – but shhh… keep that to yourself). But over here there has been a piece of legislation which took around 2 years to come into effect and did so on the 25th of May 2018. It’s called the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation – sexy sounding for sure).
Anyways, it changes the ways companies can collect, store and process our data. For anyone who’s been living off-grid for the last 10 years – Data (as the Economist recently made the slightly rash leap) has been dubbed the ‘new oil’. More valuable than raw minerals and physical resources and unlike the black gold – it shows no signs of running out – in fact, the opposite is true.
So, said sexy sounding legislation places a greater emphasis on the rights of the individual, we are entitled to request and receive (for free) all the data a company has on us within a month of making an official request. We also have the right to be forgotten – so if we want to be taken off a database we can demand this and it should be authorised – though it’s a wee bit more complicated than I’ve described. Companies in the EU or those handling EU user data are being more strongly encouraged to report when their data has been breached and have to alert their respective regulatory body if those individuals whose data has been exposed have had their details compromised. If so, then those users will have to be notified. There’s a stronger emphasis for companies to encrypt data and data keys where feasible and so on…oh and there’s the potential for fines worth millions if they are found to be in breach of the regulations.
But there’s another great side to all of this which is more perceivable for the everyday individual. Because the way in which companies are now not allowed to rely on automatic sign-ups/subscriptions – remember when you registered for something and all of those annoying fields which said things like ‘I’m fine with having my data sold to line the pockets of 3rd party companies of which I have zero interest in’ – were already pre-ticked? Well now, we have to tick those boxes if we’re interested – no ticks by default which is nice of them.
Brands have to ensure they only have the data they need and that they have your express permission. The joy I’m talking about? Well those who don’t, have to give up. Right now – my email boxes are enjoying something of a renaissance with regards to the spam they are receiving…Sure there was a surge of desperate, last-minute – “Can we keep you on the books?” – emails. But as I didn’t respond to these – they have largely disappeared.
Of course, I could have unsubscribed from these – but there are so many where previous attempts have fallen on deaf ears and even when I thought I was successful in unsubscribing – I still got mailed. Now though, the skies are clearing in the cloud (paradox?) and my inboxes feel like they just came back from a digital colonic detox – a bit more free of daily/weekly sh*t. Who knows how long it will last? – And it won’t do much for those mailers hailing from outside of the EU like the US etc.. but I’ll take the break from the assault of marketers for as long as possible – and to think this service didn’t require an app download, program install or a one-off payment…Here’s to hoping the same can be done for wedding invites, parking tickets and cross-site tracking ads – oh wait, Apple – you already took care of the last one? Guess the ‘S’ in standardisation really counts for ‘special’ 😉