Good pain?

Our famously organised, never knowingly flappable Operations Director is perspiring slightly right now. Why? Well, because GDPR – AKA General Data Protection Regulation – comes into effect on 25th May. And GDPR means sweeping changes for any business that holds personal data.

Our famously organised, never knowingly flappable Operations Director is perspiring slightly right now. Why? Well, because GDPR – AKA General Data Protection Regulation – comes into effect on 25th May. And GDPR means sweeping changes for any business that holds personal data.

But if we are feeling a bit suffocated by this new red tape, spare a thought for all those businesses for whom holding vast amounts of personal data is their basic business model.

PageFair has created a scale for GDPR from 0 to 5 – with 0 being “Yay, I’m data-free”. At the other end of the scale, a 5 reflects businesses that do hold personal data, but have no platform on which to ask consumers for their consent. And this isn’t just the odd business – there’s a whole industry of mar-tech companies that fall into this category, with no clear solution for how they can adapt their work to comply.

Until recently, many businesses had been wondering exactly how enforced or policed GDPR would be. And there was room for optimism: it’s an EU directive, so Brexit could mean it no longer applies. There’s some vagueness around the terminology – which may provide enough leeway for favourable interpretation.

But then the Facebook/ Cambridge Analytica scandal hit, and suddenly all bets are off. If ever we needed protection of personal data, then surely it’s now? How can 270,000 people providing personal information for academic purposes lead to the data of up to 87 million people – Facebook’s own best guesstimate – being harvested? And with additional unsettling news such as Google mining data from Gmail emails and Facebook trawling Whatsapp for user information, how can we possibly grumble about implementing tighter regulation?

GDPR replaces the Data Protection Directive of 1995. Do you remember 1995? It’s the year that John Major was Prime Minister, Pierce Brosnan was James Bond… and Mark Zuckerberg celebrated his 11th birthday. Suffice to say, a lot has happened since then. It shouldn’t therefore be surprising that new regulation is a bit of a headache to implement.

By it’s nature, regulation will always be about catching up with change. The requirement for creating a set of rules must first establish itself before those rules can be drafted. And then of course there is the time it takes to activate new laws and give businesses the opportunity to implement them.

The big-name technology entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos are incredible pioneers who have created unprecedented change. So by their nature, they work in spaces where regulation doesn’t yet exist. And they’re not the only ones – innovation is the absolute buzzword of our era, and across the world young tech wizards are introducing new products and concepts every day. For example, fake news was the story of 2016 – only two years later and we’re wondering how “deepfake” video technology is going to affect our understanding of reality.

Of course the concept of innovation is a wonderful thing. As I turn my heating on from the train before checking my heart rate on my watch while listening to music via my noise cancelling wireless headphones, I know this. But it brings huge challenges too – particularly around access to personal data and how that’s used. And while regulation might always have some limitations, it does feel particularly overdue right now.

So while GDPR might be a pain to implement, it will not see any protest at Mash Towers. Just as long as no one mentions our Ops Director’s new grey hairs…

unsplash-logoev

Share this

Posted by

MASH Staffing