3 Tips to Help Navigate GDPR's Confusing Landscape

Though it protects privacy, it's costly and potentially restrictive

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Well, GDPR is here. For more than a year leading up to the May 25 deadline, thought leaders from around the globe buzzed about its impact in the European Union and beyond. Now that GDPR has gone into effect, the biggest concerns should be its potential restrictiveness and cost to implement, which has been and continues to be extraordinarily high, versus the perceived harm it seeks to prevent.

In its most aggressive interpretation, GDPR could result in less technological innovation, less free content and fewer jobs. GDPR will impact the EU the most, followed by a cascading impact on the internet economy across the world. Competition will decrease, assisting the bigger businesses that have seized opt-in, direct-to-consumer connections. Small- and mid-size businesses will have to work twice as hard to keep up but will eventually secure long-term connections to consumers. But it’s anybody’s guess how long that will take and how it will play out.

With very little to no economic or anti-competitive research done prior to enacting this legislation based on fundamental human rights versus actual harm to consumers, we have all entered into the largest social and economic experiment in modern global history.

As leaders in the data-driven ecomomy, the onus is on us as marketers to actively drive the conversation about good uses of data, including how to leverage data for good, and the implications for not only advertisers but society in general. Over the past 10-plus years, I’ve been involved in helping organizations use commercial ad technology to help communities around the world, and this is an area that could be taking steps backward as GDPR stands today.

Data is essential to human progress. It’s an essential part of being able to maximize technology and communicate with people at all times as needed or desired. Whether to provide information that’s relevant to or requested by consumers or for emergency purposes, such as through life-saving alerts.

The use and collection of data isn’t as simple as good or bad. It’s about which data is used and whether it’s being used responsibly and with user privacy as the highest priority. It’s about information that helps the greater good but does not hurt individual interests.

Data is and will continue to be the source of wonderful and positive opportunities for societies globally.

If we are to see real global progress and development, we need to share best practices around how to collect and use data while protecting individual privacy. To effectively navigate this new world around GDPR, here is how we need to proceed.

Utilize more pseudonymous data

This process does not collect a user’s actual identity but associates data to a unique device identifier. That’s the first step in self-regulation, which we should all be doing regardless of whether there are official rules and regulations in place. This is a best practice that has been in place for more than a decade and helps keep the internet connected, innovation thriving and user-experience positive. It will also lessen the chance of fines, which are as much as 4 percent of global turnover, or 20 million euros, whichever is greater.

Create good content

At the end of the day, sites with good content engender trust and greater interest from people. Publishers should continue to focus on what is most important and let that drive success. Rely on trusted advertising platforms that do the hard work of self-regulation and GDPR compliance. 

Get a Data Protection Agreement in place with supportive vendors

A Data Protection Agreement (DPA) is a downstream data contract with ad exchanges that helps clarify the level of data control and processing that is required to maximize revenue, provide for an optimal user experience and respect privacy. Make sure to conduct a thorough review of all data partners that help drive revenue. Documenting the use of data for this purpose will help ensure the right data is being used for the right purposes.

The digital marketplace is an essential part of the growing economy, also providing freedom to people of unimaginable scale to learn, work and express themselves. As the internet grows, we must continue to find ways to balance privacy with the increased need to utlize data to make it unique and special for individuals. Innovation and consumer privacy is a constant balancing test. We can’t lose sight of what got us where we are today. Data is and will continue to be the source of wonderful and positive opportunities for societies globally. Let’s work together to make sure data is available to everyone equally for the greater good.