What the GDPR, Facebook and JD Wetherspoon have in common

GDPR compliance. Data protection. Privacy. These words ricochet between news articles, blogs and online forums. But take a moment to ask yourself: Why are we talking about GDPR compliance? Why does the new data protection act matter?

Data privacy

GDPR or no GDPR, businesses and consumers alike are concerned by data privacy. In part, this is because of recent stories surrounding Facebook. The social media and social networking service company is all over the news. It has become the benchmark for our perception of data privacy. And the company has had better press coverage to say the least.

Data protection: Where does responsibility lie?

When you gave someone your business card 40 years ago, you hoped that person would contact you. You’d expect a similar outcome today. But this is a digital age. You also have an online business card in the form of LinkedIn. You disclose (and hopefully keep track of) personal information in other online corners too, such as Totaljobs, rightmove and Facebook. It is a choice, not an obligation, to use these digital platforms – just as it is a choice to give away your business card.

Focusing solely on Facebook’s use of data accepts too passive a role for its users. It should, incidentally, come as no surprise that a free service such as Facebook has a string attached. (Zuckerberg recently confirmed that Facebook’s business model is to “run ads.”) Yes, the company must be less opaque about how it deals with personal data. But a free app subsidised by advertising revenue will always provide businesses with tools to target users. Opting out is key. We should consider how much we want Mark Zuckerberg to play the scapegoat – and be mindful that responsibility also lies with users.

GDPR compliance and individual responsibility

As set out in the GDPR, the responsibility to protect your data sits with you as much as with a company in possession of your data. The company should offer you choice and control; your consent should put you in charge.

Keep calm and start with the customer

Because the new data protection act gives control to customers, GDPR compliance is about starting from the customer’s perspective. You may be feeling worried or frustrated by the news stories around Facebook and the GDPR. If that’s the case, stop and ask yourself a few questions. What does your customer want? What does your customer need? Be precise – what exactly do you need your customer’s permission for?

An opportunity to reflect

Take JD Wetherspoon. The pub chain recently quit social media, a decision influenced by “misuse of personal data,” as the BBC reported. But it was also a decision based on customers. As chairman Tim Martin explained, “pub managers were being side-tracked from the real job of serving customers.”

Where some see risk in this decision, others see sense. No, the company’s social media strategy wasn’t the best. But maybe there’s a reason for that. After all, you don’t walk into Wetherspoon to read a blog: you’re after a meal or a drink.

The GDPR is an opportunity to step back, listen to customers, and reflect on why your company is doing something – or not. Wetherspoon has done just this. In this case, it questioned why it was using social media.

A new data protection act

This isn’t the first data protection act. It follows in the footsteps of others that attracted similar levels of attention. Take the data protection acts of 1984 or 1998. The clamour surrounding the acts settled after implementation, as did businesses and consumers. Gather has been in business for 40 years. We’ve seen build-up around data privacy before. But we also understand the importance of data collection and data protection to businesses. This is why the Gather app focuses on your customer.

GDPR compliance and Gather

Gather’s data collection app includes positive customer opt-ins as standard. It holds all data within the European Economic Area – in a secure, encrypted state from device to cloud. You can customise it to include everything from permission centres to permission statements. And it will reflect your approach to the new data protection act in that all-important relationship between your customer and your business. Why? Because it starts with GDPR compliance to ensure that your customer comes first.

Find out how Gather’s app helps you start with the customer. Contact our team today for a free trial.

You can also download our free GDPR eGuide for businesses navigating the new data protection act.

Stay up to date with Gather