GDPR – as minimally as possible

I have a bit of a bet (with myself) that most people won’t know much about what GDPR is, but most importantly why it matters to their life. So I’m going to try to break it down as minimally as possible:

  • what the GDPR is
  • why GDPR is important
  • how it impacts your life

The last one is important, as it’s about what I think is most significant to all our lives from this new regulation. There’s going to be plenty more stuff about the GDPR that I won’t cover because I have no background in law. So basically, take everything I say here with a giant pinch of salt, and if you want to learn a lot more about GDPR then I’d recommend checking out the whatisgdpr.eu website.

GDPR stands for (the) General Data Protection Regulation. It’s about ensuring, via law, that you as the ‘data subject’ now own all your data. When you signup for a website, or a newsletter, or provide your data over to any service – you own it. Along with that, you have the right to:

  • be informed about how and why your data is used
  • have your data removed entirely at request (there are some caveats, but won’t go into those)
  • request your data be modified for accuracy
  • question, refuse or object to automatic profiling (e.g. targeting based on your interests) and direct marketing
  • move your data to another provider at your request, and the data must be easily transferrable

The GDPR is important because it means that no longer can a service, apps, social networks, marketers, and advertisers no longer abuse the data you have provided if you don’t want them to, so if you request that they don’t use your data to do things like ‘make advertising more relevant for you’ then they can’t and must abide by your request as you now have rights and law to back you up.

It comes at a good time when our interconnected world is immensely fuelled by misinformation, sensationalism, propaganda and misuse of our personal information and data. In actual practice, this means things like:

  • when registering a domain name, there is no longer a ‘WHOIS’ with all your personal information on it, just waiting there for advertisers, spammers and marketers to abuse
  • you can tell Facebook, Twitter and other social networks not to use your ‘likes’, ‘interests’, history, gender, religion, or political preferences to market, advertise, or only show specific content to you in a never-ending echo chamber

The GDPR impacts your rights to privacy and in extension your rights to your security. Not only of your ‘data’ but of your life. With the internet and social networks being somewhere many of us spend a lot of time every day, feeding it with more information about ourselves, literally giving away our privacy willingly.

There are things we keep to ourselves, we don’t tell friends or family or our neighbours, but for some reason, we feel free to share deep emotions, personality traits, political preferences, ideologies and so much more to this thing called the internet.

We don’t know ‘it’ as a person, and it doesn’t know us (not really). It holds a wealth of information about us, open to abuse, and tries to categorise us via our preferences and show us only what it thinks we want to see.

But life isn’t about living it through a specific set of frames, it’s about experiencing every different sensation, personality and passion to find where you fit within it all, in your own way.