The European Union claims that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes to term on May 25, is the most important change in data privacy regulation in 20 years. Many companies have spent months preparing for the changes, working on policy and compliance, and introducing changes to their products in order to meet new standards.
We have received quite a few alerts and emails about those policy changes from a wide variety of companies. Combing through the alerts allowed us to see some interesting methods to solve—or evade—the problems that come with making businesses compliant. Let’s take a look at how different companies are coping with GDPR changes, and what you’ll need to pay attention to in those emails.
For some companies whose business interests are too slim in Europe, giving up seemed like the best option. File this alert from Unroll.Me, an app to unsubscribe from unwanted mailing lists, under “why bother.”
because our service was not designed to comply with all GDPR requirements, Unroll.Me will not be available to EU residents…. And we must delete any EU user accounts by May 24.
Obviously, there is a reason for such drastic measures, and I would call it a good guess if someone were to suggest that this might be related to Unroll.Me having been found selling email data to Uber.
Unroll.me may not be the only company walking away from its European customers in the face of GDPR. Some services have popped up seeming to help companies stay compliant by blocking EU visitors to websites. The GDPR shield shown below was promoted for a period as a possible solution, but the site seems to be down now. Or I could not reach it because I’m in the EU, and the block works too well.
Keep EU visitors off your site by using a GDPR Shield
Chain responsibility for advertisers
Some sites and platforms have advertising partners with whom they share user data. GDPR states that So, you would hope that they take special care in selecting partners who will handle that shared data. Instagram and other Facebook companies have decided on a different approach, shifting that portion of the responsibilities to their advertisers:
Businesses who advertise with Instagram and the Facebook companies can continue to use our platforms and solutions in the same way they do today. Each company is responsible for ensuring their own compliance with the GDPR, just as they are responsible for compliance with the laws that apply to them today.
Helping B2B customers
Google Cloud, on the other hand, offers to help their customers.
You can count on the fact that Google is committed to GDPR compliance across Google Cloud services. We are also committed to helping our customers with their GDPR compliance journey…
What deserves your attention
When sifting through these emails, I’ve come across some that I would not count as informed consent. A banner that looks and behaves like a cookie warning does not qualify, and neither does providing a less-than comprehensive picture by spreading out information across several different web pages. I’m hoping that these platforms will provide more detailed and specific information before the magic GDPR drop date arrives.
Some companies that are active worldwide do make a distinction between EU and non-EU customers, but offer the same functionality that is automatically applied to EU-based IP addresses as an option to users outside of the EU.
Other, smaller, companies made an effort to send out more personalized notifications letting me know I needed to approve their new policy in order to stay in touch:
When a user is in Privacy Mode, we will not collect or process any personal data, as defined by GDPR. In cases where we do not have a lawful basis for processing personal data we will apply Privacy Mode to requests from IP addresses associated with an EU country.
While the ongoing influx might be a nuisance in your inbox, this is a great opportunity to review the privacy policies and maybe say goodbye to some of the companies that have your email address. (Although the professional spammers will probably just keep on going as if nothing has changed.)
Where will GDPR lead us?
Looking at the examples we have seen so far, we can divide the big players from the small players and see that some small players from outside the EU are giving up that part of the market—at least for the time being. The big players and European companies are mostly applying the same policies for EU and non-EU customers, although there will always be some exceptions.
Some have predicted there will be two separate Internets as a result of GDPR. I don’t think that will happen. But we will soon get a better idea of how things will play out once the implementation is done and the first shots across the bow have been fired.
In the meantime, it is worth your time to review the changed policies carefully and pay close attention to privacy policies when you sign up for something new.