GDPR 101: Your Internet Company and Personal Data Protection

Padlock and EU flag inside smartphone

If you’ve noticed a recent flurry of emails mentioning “Updates on our Privacy Policy,” you are certainly not alone. These catchy emails – and oftentimes cheery even pop-ups when you visit blogs and websites – are written as a Privacy Statement to support new EU data protection laws, which came into effect last May.

You might or might not have read through the entire privacy policy (ahem!) but it’s good to know what’s going on behind the scenes and why this had to happen. After all, the topic is quite a sensitive matter – your personal data.

How companies extract personal data

When you register for an account, let’s say for e-mail access or social media, websites ask for pieces of information that are pretty basic, such as your name, address, age, etc. You perfectly understand that this is for profiling and identification purposes – you consciously and confidently release your unique information.

While you’re using web services though, you unconsciously release personal data by leaving traces of your identity based on internet activity. Oftentimes, we don’t realize how much Facebook or Google knows about us!

The following list shows samples of what websites can glimpse through your use of their services:

  • Political stances (did you like or share a specific political campaign?)
  • Commercial interests (what are you up to in your Amazon searches?)
  • Personality (what do you exhibit in terms of responses and search criteria?)

Personal data is valuable. On a large scale, if we’re looking at millions (or billions) of personal data that can be used for whatever purpose, (e.g., for statistical research or to publish new information and trends) one can only imagine the impact that it would have if it fell on the wrong hands. Certainly it would be necessary to build laws and regulations that center on the protection and use of personal data. This is what the GPDR or General Data Protection Regulation is all about.

What do I need to do as an Internet user?

You might be inclined to read through your internet company’s privacy statement just to get some peace of mind. Not to worry though, the GPDR ensures strict organization for companies and that penalties will be charged for those that are non-compliant.

Your personal data could not be handed over to entities such as marketing research firms without your agreement. Nobody would be allowed to steal your data and just let you know about it later. Basically, this means empowerment for consumers and internet users.

The future of data collection and dissemination

In conclusion, the GPDR intends to balance the power plays between seemingly-omniscient internet companies and users who barely have an idea of how their personal data is being collected and managed. As this regulation is observed in the next years, we expect integrity, better internet security, and confidence on the part of users. We would like to be able to release information that would serve us better and help optimize our use of web services based on personal preferences and information.

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