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Why GDPR Has Been a Nightmare

Yes, another blog and another mention of the dreaded GDPR. But this isn’t here to explain what you should and shouldn’t be doing. Instead, I’m taking a look at the aftermath of GDPR, the fallout and the negative impact it has had on both consumers and businesses.

Businesses Still Don’t Understand GDPR

As is often the case with new laws, they’re written in such a way that different lawyers and businesses can interpret them in different way. GDPR didn’t disappoint on this front.

Most people appreciated that GDPR was there to protect consumer’s data and give them the right to be forgotten and removed from a business and their records. This is fairly straightforward to understand.

The big question businesses had to ask themselves was what do they do with their current database. Do they have permission from those users to send them emails? Can they legally store the data? Do they need to reconfirm permission? Do you have to ask consumers to optin again for marketing emails? Are you breaking the law by sending vital product updates?

And does anyone really know the answer to these questions? Can anyone categorically state yes or no to the above?

What ensued were businesses getting themselves into a panic asking consumers to optin left, right and centre and consumers getting panicked by the sudden surge of legal (and often jargon filled) emails.

Consumers Became Blind to Compliance

On the infamous GDPR day, I was receiving emails from brands begging for me to give permission for them to send emails every second. My inbox was flooded with identical emails from varying brands.

So what happened? I became utterly blind to them. It got to the stage where I was hitting “select all” and then pressing “delete”. It didn’t matter if the email came from a brand I cared about or from someone I’d never heard of.

US Brands Have Banned EU Consumers

In what can only be one of the most bizarre consequences of GDPR, a huge array of US brands have decided that complying with GDPR isn’t worth the effort for their EU customer base. Visit the LA Times from the EU and you’ll find yourself presented with the following message:

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But it’s not just news platforms that have restricted EU visitors. Pottery Barn, seller of fancy homeware won’t accept EU visitors. Vintage clothing store, Modcloth have banned all EU customers. Dick’s Sporting Goods blame GDPR explicitly if you head over to their site from the EU.

What we now have is internet censorship, something only those in a totalitarian state knew of before GDPR. “Thank you GDPR” said no one.

This censorship is taken to another level by Forbes who make the majority of money from advertising revenue. When you visit Forbes you’re asked to provide permission to 3rd party advertising. Decline to provide this information and Forbes is no longer browsable. And to be fair to Forbes, I’d struggle to argue against this. Ultimately, Forbes exists to make money and GDPR has made it possible for consumers to take away their revenue source.

Nothing has Actually Changed…

Perhaps illegal, but it really hasn’t changed a bloody thing. I still personally get countless marketing emails from ecommerce stores I bought from once, restaurants I haven’t visited for over a year and brands I’ve never heard.

Ultimately there are businesses who already followed countless laws when it came to marketing. Laws which made sense. Laws which made it easier for consumers to unsubscribe from emails and which meant businesses couldn’t hide who they were or where they were based.

Then there were ‘businesses’ who would spam you with unsolicited emails. Will GDPR really affect the spammers? Will the countless emails about toe nail fungus cures and my much needed breast enlargement surgery stop?

Or has GDPR only hindered businesses who are trying to ensure they are as compliant as can be?

But At Least it Made People Money?

I don’t know how many countless emails I received in the weeks and months leading up to GDPR which offered specialised courses, webinars and downloadable guidebooks. I do know something though, they all had one thing in common: A price tag.

So if there is one advantage to the EU’s implementation of GDPR it’s that it helped a few opportunists make a decent chunk of quick cash from businesses panicked at thought of hefty fines.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for data protection and the right to privacy. But perhaps first the EU should have considered the right to having a bit of bloody common sense? Welcome to the EU, where criminals have the right to be forgotten, where the internet is censored but where you can tell your local pub to stop emailing you about midweek specials on fish and chips.