A Rear-View Look at GDPR: Compliance Has No Brakes

A Rear-View Look at GDPR: Compliance Has No Brakes

With a year of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation under our belt, what have we learned?

There is no denying the impact of the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which went into effect on May 25, 2018. We were all witness — or victim — to the flurry of updated privacy policy emails and cookie consent banners that descended upon us. It was such a zeitgeist moment that “we’ve updated our privacy policy” became a punchline.

Pragmatically, the GDPR will serve as a catalyst for a new wave of privacy regulations worldwide — as we have already seen with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and an approaching wave of state-level regulation from Washington, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Maryland.

GDPR has been a boon for technology vendors and legal counsel: A PricewaterhouseCoopers survey indicates that GDPR budgets have topped $10 million for 40% of respondents. A majority of businesses are realizing that there are benefits to remediation beyond compliance, according to a survey by Deloitte. CSOs are happy to use privacy regulations as evidence in support of stronger data protection, CIOs can rethink the way they architect their data, and CMOs can build stronger bonds of trust with their customers.

But it is not a rose-tinted vision for everyone. GDPR fines are no paper tiger. France levied a stunning $57 million fine against Google for its GDPR violations. Even Ireland, long-viewed as a technology safe haven, has experienced a 100% increase in privacy complaints since May 25, 2018.

The complexity of GDPR has caused some unintended side effects. According to Jeff South, a journalism professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, writing for Nieman Lab, nearly a third of the largest US news sites chose to block access to the EU because of the GDPR, as they struggled to implement compliance solutions. A lot of companies have been struggling with GDPR compliance in the past year, and many continue to do so. I speak with them regularly. Here, I share a few of the lessons I’ve learned from them below.

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