GDPR: What It Is and Why It Affects You

There is a looming deadline in the European Union but its effects will be felt worldwide.  On Friday, businesses will have to be in compliance with the GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation, which the EU passed in 2016. Essentially, it allows for people to edit or delete their own marketing data that is acquired by a company among many other regulations.  

While this is a European Union rule it will still affect U.S. Companies in the present, if you market your products on the internet, pay attention, and in the future with a trickle-down effect on American cyber-soil.  

DEG Digital Senior Relationship Marketing Strategist Jenn Horner is the company’s resident expert on GDPR.  She expects the ramifications to really hit once a major brand gets penalized for non-GDPR compliance.  The tough part, Horner thinks, is how they will get caught.  Most likely it will be a privacy policy that isn’t updated, a technical issue or if the brand doesn’t report a violation within the required window of time (72 hours).  By the way, the fine for not fixing the violation is steep.  Really steep.  

“Five years from now, we’ll look back on the enforcement of GDPR as the turning point in how we view data protection,” says Horner.  “Between the tightened definitions and enforcement under GDPR and the consumer backlash from the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, everyone is becoming more aware of what data is available for possession and how it is used.”

The Cambridge Analytica data scandal  rocked America’s social media core because of the implied effects on the 2016 Presidential Election.  Specifically, there was a very “hyper-specific” nature to the data collection on Facebook.  As DEG CEO Neal Sharma has mentioned to us before, it wasn’t about seeing if you like flowers, it was about seeing if you called your mother at 2 pm on Mother’s Day about the hydrangeas you sent her; much too intrusive.  

Your personal information has been being collected by marketers for years in different forms, you probably just didn’t realize it.  Seeing the product you just shopped for pop up on your Facebook ads?  That’s not coincidence, that’s called remarketing.  And you may have unwittingly given your data to that business just by shopping on a page that was tagged.  They don’t know your name, but they know how to reach you.  Horner says, that is one of the big things that could change, and soon.  “I really think that because of the diligence by U.S. businesses in preparing for GDPR, we are going to see a trickle-down effect in three key areas. We’ll see consumers demanding to be more aware of what data is being used by businesses, businesses becoming stricter on their data and privacy policy enforcements, and legislatures taking a closer look at how to better regulate the storage and sharing of personal data collected.”

Horner notes legislation already active in a couple of states such as the Data Broker Protection Act in Vermont and the Consent Act led by senators in Massachusetts and Connecticut as signs that the data issue will be on-going for quite some time.