You’ve probably heard about the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) that come into effect on May 25th, but most of us have been left a little baffled as to how they impact us as bloggers and what we need to do to ensure we’re compliant. Like any big change, it’s easy to panic – but there are only a handful of actions you need to take to ensure you’re operating within the regulations and protect yourself from potential action down the line. These new regulations are being introduced to uniform all EU member state’s approaches to data protection and ensure they’re applied identically (and yep, they’re relevant to us as British citizens even though we’re due to leave imminently!) As a consumer it will prevent organisations using our data irresponsibly, putting ‘opt in’ way ahead of previous ‘opt out’ approaches that could leave our inboxes overflowing with useless information.
It comes into force in less than a fortnight and essentially replaces the Data Protection Act 1998; compliance is vital, as any business found not sticking to the rules could be charged fines of up to 4% of the company’s global annual turnover. But as a blogger (or small business) what do you need to action? Even if you don’t think you collect data, you probably do: it could be IP addresses and names left in comments, connectivity you offer for readers to log in using their social channels, email addresses they shared to sign up to your newsletter, or even competitions they’ve entered. I’m by no means a data, law or internet expert, but after undertaking a lot of research and reading a lot of articles these are the steps I believe you need to take.
ENSURE YOUR SITE IS SECURE
One of the most important things to check is whether your site is secure; you can do this by entering https:// ahead of your URL and if your site appears you’re already secure. If not, there are easy settings to change this within Blogger, WordPress and other platforms – or alternatively have a look on your provider to get a SSL certificate. (I just went into my settings and clicked a box to say ‘yes’ to https usage; it was that simple.)
CHECK IF YOU NEED TO REGISTER WITH THE ICO
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is, in their words: “the UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.” The new regulations state that website owners should register with the ICO if they fall within certain categories, which brings with it a small annual subscription free. Although this has left many people feeling worried about budgeting for this additional cost, the majority of us don’t need to register at all. They’ve set up a handy quiz to give you a black and white answer to whether or not you need to take action (take it here.) For point of reference, I was told I didn’t because the data I acquire and manage is for promotion of my own products and isn’t shared with any third parties.
INTEGRATE A COOKIE POP-UP
CONTACT YOUR DATABASE
Newsletters have become big news in the bloggersphere, so if you hold a database of email addresses (or other more personal data) then you need to acitvely aask them if they’d still like to be contacted. The majority of databases have historically been passively created, so it’s really important to double check they still want to be contacted and give them an option to be removed / unsubscribe. You may have noticed a lot of these kind of emails landing in your inbox in the last few weeks, and that’s why. I’ve just sent my database a quick note at the top of my most recent newsletter checking they want to still hear from me and letting them know how their data is used.
It sounds like a lot, but really a few changes are all you need to ensure you’re keeping within the regulations and operating ethically as a small business owner and content creator. It’ll be beneficial to us all in the long term, so just make sure you’re making an effort to tick those boxes and illustrate you’re taking care over the data you collect.
Got any other advice, suggestions or things we should be looking out for? Let me know below!
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