Since the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR in the European Union, many businesses have found themselves scrambling to ensure that their websites are brought into compliance with the new and restrictive data protection laws. The GDPR is a set of regulations regarding the protection of consumer personal data. These laws seek to unify data collection and privacy laws across the European Union into one cohesive set of regulations to which all businesses that collected data from users residing within the European Union will be subjected. It is important to note that these regulations apply not only to businesses located in the European Union but rather to any business that conducts data collection and services customers residing in the EU.
These new regulations are some of the most strict and comprehensive privacy laws since the beginning of the digital age, and constitute a major paradigm shift in online business practices and site management. Among the most significant of these changes is the mandate that any and all data collection processes, such as the uses of cookies, must be made explicit to users. The user then will have the option to consent to these data collection processes before proceeding. Importantly, this information must be presented to users in the form of a question rather than a statement. Further, the user must be given an equal opportunity to opt out of data collection at any time, putting more logistic stress on sites to restructure their policies to be in compliance.
These regulations stand even in cases in which the user’s data is collected and stored under a pseudonym. According to GDPR, any data collected will be considered as personal and subject to regulation if there any potential whatsoever that the individual or device in question can be identified. The sweeping nature of these new guidelines for data collection means that businesses will need to approach data collection with an unprecedented level of scrutiny to assure that they are in compliance and further, financially viable.
The task is a daunting one that requires considerable financial and time investments on the part of business orders to avoid hefty fines. Even major corporations like Facebook have already received major fines for their apparent breaches of data collection consent policies. Unfortunately, this financial burden disproportionately affects small business owners, who may not have the resources or the capital of large corporations. While large corporations might be able to withstand the financial hit that such fines entail, there are fewer options available to small business owners.
Other companies like the Tribune family of newspapers have chosen to limit the availability of their content on EU servers to mitigate the likelihood that their data is found to be in breach of policy. Even this pragmatic solution is not at all ideal for small businesses and sites as they lose much traffic from the highly lucrative EU market. Worse still, the restrictions apply regardless of whether or not commerce takes place. This means that even if your site does not sell any products or services but simply provides content that is accessible by EU residents, it still must be GDRP compliant to remain operational.
These solutions come at the price of either major financial losses in the former, or a loss of outreach in the latter by limiting content. Neither of these solutions arises viable in the long term for small business owners, whose ability to reach their customers is vitally important to sustain their business. Further, these businesses do not have the resources to comb through data and content to ensure that everything is in compliance, a task that takes more manpower and financial resources that can be reasonably expected of the average site.
Sources External links :General Data Protection Regulation What does the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) govern? General Data Protection Regulation GDPR Everything you need to know about GDPR How to make a website GDPR compliant