By Arielle Mullen 

If you've been paying attention to your inbox lately, you've probably noticed it's packed with messages from every company whose email list you've ever been on. The sudden influx of "we're updating our privacy policy" emails probably left you wondering "why is everyone suddenly updating their privacy policy?" (If you're anything like me, it also left you amazed at just how many subscriber lists you've joined over the years). 

The answer to your privacy policy query can be found with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), measures created by the European Union (EU) to protect consumers' private information. In a nutshell, the GDPR ensures companies collecting, processing, and/or storing consumer data do so carefully, while also offering consumers the ability to control, restrict, and/or delete their information at any time.

Unlike American regulations, which generally favor business over the consumer, the EU has always operated from a consumer-first position. Hoping to set a global precedent, the EU has attached an aggressive financial penalty as punishment for any business found to be noncompliant with the new standards. These fines (4% of the company's total global revenue), could easily mean financial ruin for businesses of any size. 

As consumer data is not necessarily restricted by borders, American businesses maintaining a database in which any of their users are EU citizens are now faced with two options:

  • Block all EU users
  • Implement measures to ensure compliance

If the latter option is selected, companies must adhere to many new stringent standards including:

  • Privacy policies must be in easy-to-understand language with explanations of how data will be used
  • Obtain consent to process consumer data
  • Allow users to access their data at any time
  • If data is breached, consumers must be informed
  • Extra safeguards must be used for any sensitive data

If you feel your business is subject to the GDPR, we suggest reviewing the full list of restrictions

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