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GDPR: One Year Later

Last May, large corporations around the world shuddered as the European Union enacted the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Companies around the world debated what it meant and even whom it applied to. One year later, what do we know?

  • Those regulators were serious. Regulators have conducted many investigations, leading to rampant speculation about when the first fines will be imposed.
  • We still don’t know who it applies to. It will be up to the courts as to whether it applies to users in EU countries, EU citizens in any country, or something else.
  • Global companies have adopted it globally. Without knowing how the legislation works, most companies have erred on the side of applying it as if it were a global regulation, meaning GDPR is protecting people who are clearly outside of its scope.
  • Cookie modal windows are not enough. I am not sure who decided that the only way to be GDPR-compliant is those annoying windows at the bottom of every page that you need to click “I agree” to, but if you are firing off your JavaScript tags before they agree, you are not in compliance.
  • It’s not the end of personalization. Companies like SoloSegment [full disclosure: I am their Senior Strategist and a partner] are using behavior-based personalization to power content recommendation that does not use personally-identifiable information (PII), so it is full GDPR-compliant.
  • There will be more regulation. The California Consumer Privacy Act looks like the first one out of the gate, but there will certainly be more.

What should we expect next year?

  • Actual fines. They will likely be big and the companies are likely to be prominent, to send a message.
  • Court interpretations. Some court cases will likely be decided so that the regulations are more clear.
  • Better regulations. Many complained that GDPR was vague and hard to understand. Businesses always complain about any regulation, but they really might have had a point here. It stands to reason that we’ll get better at regulations with more experience.

What do you think about where privacy stands in 2019? Make a comment below to start the conversation.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, a leading digital media marketing consultancy based in New York City. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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Discussion

  1. Hester A Tinti-Kane Hester A Tinti-Kane

    Mike, thanks for this informative post. It’s great to hear your “one year in” perspective on GDPR. As I work with clients this is something they are vaguely aware of. I need to be the expert on these regulations and I find myself leaning on tools like Mailchimp provide (https://mailchimp.com/gdpr/).

    Is there a central resource you turn to that helps you stay on top of what we should be doing for companies here in the U.S. when it comes to GDPR?

  2. Avatar Mike Moran

    Thanks for the question, Hester. There really isn’t. I am not a GDPR expert–I just have spent a lot of time hearing my clients talk about it. Hope you are doing well.

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