“Mr. Zuckerberg, would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night?”. “Ummm… uh, no,” answered Mark Zuckerberg hesitantly, as he testified before US Congress, one month ago, about the FB Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Ironic, isn’t it? The Facebook CEO is very protective of his private life. And yet, Facebook’s entire business model was unable to secure the 87 million Facebook users. These were the users whose data was improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica. A political consultancy which is accused of using the information to manipulate political opinions. It has taken Facebook for almost three years to inform its users of the data problems. They got to know when it first disclosed in 2015.
Undoubtedly, the FB Cambridge Analytica meltdown has taught us an important thing. It’s that people are now more concerned than ever of what information they’re putting on the internet. Indeed, public awareness was suddenly so increased that Facebook lost $70 billion in just ten days after the data scandal.
But what does all of this mean for any business that holds data on its clients?
Simply put, if customers don’t trust you with their data, they’re less likely to want to do business with you.
However, the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is just around the corner, and it’s here to help you!
Could the GDPR have prevented the data leak scandal?
In a nutshell, Cambridge Analytica with the help of a Cambridge University researcher created a Facebook quiz app that gathered data from people who took part in it. At first glance, the app seemed like an innocent quiz, as the thousands already on Facebook. Nevertheless, the app exploited a loophole in the Facebook API that empowered it to collect data not only from the 270,000 quiz takers themselves but also from the users’ friends who took the quiz. In total, the number of data collection went to 87 million people.
And this is the underlying problem. The quiz takers’ friends never took the quiz and never gave their consent to their data collection. Their data was stolen and then was used to target and sway voters during the 2016 US presidential elections.
Are you still wondering why people feel betrayed by companies like Facebook?
However, the breach occurred after the 25 May 2018, when the GDPR comes into force, and it was evident that personal data from an EU Facebook user was used, it would not be hard to argue a breach of the new regulation.
Indeed, the EU Regulation enacted strictly to protect personal information from misuse. According to the core principles of the GDPR:
- Companies will no longer be able to process data without legitimate interest or explicit consent which should be obtained through a positive opt-in from customers.
- Consumers will have the “right to be forgotten”; that is, they will be empowered at any time to request their data to be deleted.
- More importantly, businesses must stay transparent about the data they are collecting and how they intend to use it.
Undeniably, GDPR will bring key changes and place data control back in the hands of its owners, once and for all.
Don’t Be Afraid of the GDPR Wolf – Just Prepare
Of course, complying with the GDPR is not a simple task. Understanding the new rules and the changes to the way data is obtaining and storing which is a challenging and costly process for many companies. At the same time, organisations in breach of GDPR can be fined up to 4% of annual global turnover or €20 Million(whichever is greater).
So it’s perhaps easy to understand why many companies are in opposition to GDPR. However, they should welcome it.
In this modern digital landscape where data is the most priceless asset in the world, embracing the GDPR can be an excellent opportunity to differentiate your organisation from competitors and help cultivate trust with your customers. Why not just follow Apple’s example? Its privacy statement asserts: “At Apple, we believe that privacy is a fundamental human right.” And yes, it’s one of the reasons Apple is so profitable.
Remember, the GDPR is not just a regulatory obligation, but also your golden opportunity to excel.
That brings us to the next question: How to get your business ready for the new regulation?