General Data Protection Regulation is the attempt to regulate what information we allow to be collected on our behalf. It came to be on May 25th, 2018 and it serves as a way to keep the average user’s privacy, without giving excessive information to companies and political parties that can be used to shape the market and the political landscape.
If a website wishes to collect your data, they have to inform you of doing so and give you a way to opt out of their program for it. They must also declare why they need your data and whether they are planning to use it to improve their business or some other purpose.
Why Should I Care?
The Facebook scandal (which one, am I right?) involving Cambridge Analytica in 2015, fully made public in 2018, showed us that the mega-corporations use our data to shape their marketing campaigns. It all started with an app “This Is Your Life” that was urging users to give it data for the purposes of academic surveys. The data, instead, was used to shape the political campaign for a presidential candidate that would later become the president of the United States, Donald Trump.
With data collected from more than 70 million users, the company had enough to create a comprehensive profile of the public opinion, as well as the keywords and attitudes they are likely to respond to.
Another outrage came to be due to Real-Time Bidding of personal data leaked by ad tech companies. This means that Google and others sell the data to the highest bidder on the market. Imagine giving your data for the purposes of making a horoscope, seeing where the nearest pizza place is, or expressing interest in buying furniture online. Companies fight for your data in order to make a profit from these queries, but also for their own purposes and you are more often than not left in the dark regarding who has your data and what they are using it for.
Unfortunately, some issues have arisen since GDPR has been introduced. As this is an EU regulation, any country outside the EU may block their content from EU citizens, stating that they do not follow this regulation, so they are unable to provide users with services. While this is regrettable, it is nice to see that steps are being taken to keep our data safe.