It’s the biggest update on data protection laws since 1995 – a much needed one at that. The EU’s data protection laws have been highly regarded for its consistency and global scope but does this have anything to do with you? Here’s a simple run-through on why it certainly does, whether you’re a business owner or just an average person on social media.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)  came into effect last May 2018 to implement stricter policies on how businesses take, store, use, and export people’s personal data. The law applies to EU residents and any company with a digital presence in Europe, which includes tech giants like Facebook, Microsoft, and every other website greeting you with a “Change in Privacy Policy” as soon as you log in or open your email.

A tighter grip on businesses

Stakeholders such as subscribers, customers, suppliers, and site visitors, must be informed of every instance wherein a company has to take, store, use, transfer, or sell their personal data, and the purpose for whatever process via notification. Personal data refers to any kind of data that can be used, either on its own or together with more data,  to identify a person. So, if a stakeholder is unresponsive to the notification, then the company cannot process or continue to keep it. Notifying them using fine print, heavy jargons, or legalese is not allowed, neither is keeping any data for “future purposes”.

Regardless of the business’ location, and as long as it processes data from EU citizens, compliance is a must. Otherwise, non-compliance would mean paying a fine of up to €20 million or 4% of the annual worldwide turnover, whichever is greater. This is more reason for enterprises or companies with more than 250 employees to assign a Data Protection Officer in ensuring that all privacy protocols are being strictly followed.

Total control over your privacy

You have an all-access pass to your data. You are able to demand a copy of all the data a company has on you, given free of charge and within the month that you requested it, and the right to have it corrected or completely erased from their systems.

It is only fitting that you have the right over the unprecedented amount of personal information the internet has on you. The lack of awareness over what can be done with it is particularly dangerous at this present time. In a Channel 4 News interview with Christopher Wylie, a former Research Director at Cambridge Analytica, it was discussed how data can be used to craft materials to change audience behavior. He claims that algorithms can even predict human behavior more accurately than humans themselves which is exactly what Cambridge Analytica used to harvest the data of over 87 million Facebook users, despite getting the paid consent of only over 270,000 users to answer a personality survey on an app. Data is put into algorithms, eventually creating a psychometric model – a sort of personality profile – to create graphics, articles, and videos targeted towards a specific segment in the population. These kinds of materials were what divided the nation during the elections in 2016, and what Mr. Wylie believes were leaning more towards behavior manipulation rather than persuasion.

Even with this regulation in place, there is no definitive guarantee that everything we see in our browser is a result of our own search, and not content crafted from our digital footprints. Then again, the flow of information and misinformation is something beyond our control. What we can control though is our own perception.

“So, who do you trust?”, The Guardian asked Mr. Wylie in an interview. He struggled at first, remarking it was a difficult question, but then proceeded to say something perhaps all of us can take guidance from. “…I go through life with a healthy dose of skepticism, and that healthy dose of skepticism as to what you’re seeing and what you’re hearing, and who you’re talking to, is the best way to go through life.”

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Nina Ricci Sullano

Nina Ricci Sullano

Nina is a young woman but a veteran writer. Her style of writing mirrors her personality: cheerful, focused, and creative. Articles she writes work toward finding new ways of capturing the reader's attention and providing interesting new perspectives. Outside of Xilium, she's currently working on several short stories in which the randomness of life is celebrated and beautified.
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