GDPR deadline approaches

From May small businesses will need to be GDPR-ready. What does this mean?

The way companies communicate with their users, and how they handle and process the information they hold about their users, will soon need to change. This is so all company practice falls in line with new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) guidelines. The guidelines are EU-led, but identical guidelines will almost certainly be written into post-Brexit UK legislation.

Privacy policies and user agreements are notoriously and unnecessarily long. GDPR is partly to end the need for such overlong, overwritten agreements that few users could reasonably be expected to wade through.

GDPR demands clarity in all company explanations about how it plans to use and store personal information. It requires companies to provide information that is:

• easy to find;
• free; and
• written in clear plain English.

The changes are to protect users. If a company is going to use someone’s personal information, the user in question should be made aware in easy-to-understand terms what is happening to that information. 70000-word streams of evasive and impenetrable gobbledygook will no longer suffice. Users need to know if their information is not being treated in a way they deem suitable. To have a GDPR-ready privacy policy in place, you’ll need to consider:

• what information is being collected;
• who exactly is collecting the information;
• how they are collecting it;
• why they are collecting it;
• how it’s likely to be used;
• who it will be shared with;
• the effect of all this on the user or users;
• how you plan to use information and if this could lead to a complaint by the user.

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