Because of my role as a marketer, I understand what GDPR is all about. I think GDPR is a very good thing. As a consumer first, I agree that consumers should have more control over their data, at least understand how it’s being used — and have some semblance of involvement in the decisions of when and how it is leveraged.
GDPR is primarily intended to influence how companies manage data and its uses in the European Union, but many companies are adopting the policy across the globe in advance of any U.S.-led regulation. GDPR is likely a blueprint for what the U.S. will end up with, so why not adopt it now?
That being said, I am a U.S. citizen and how my data gets used is still up for grabs by most companies. My email will likely continue to be bought and sold like a Mike Trout rookie card — everyone is still going to try to get it.
As a U.S. citizen, the only way to get your email volume down is to routinely unsubscribe to whoever is emailing you. This GDPR-palooza is an amazing chance to do that. These companies have to contact you with their updated privacy settings, so take this chance to unsubscribe from whatever lists you might be on.
I do this about once a month and I have seen dramatic decreases in the volume of junk mail that I get. It’s something you have to be diligent about because your email is constantly being monetized.
If you want to test out this theory, go create an email on any platform and leave it alone for a month. After a month you will certainly see some spam, but probably not a bunch. Then subscribe to some news email like USA Today or CNN and watch your inbox expand exponentially in just a matter of weeks. Emails get scraped and sold, shared and sold.
In my opinion, GDPR is a great step toward enabling consumers to be more knowledgeable about their data. Still, I don’t think it portends a future where consumers will actually monetize their own data. That requires too much work and attention for too little ROI.
I think if you give consumers the choice, they’ll simply defer to opt out of the data economy rather than dive in to truly monetize it. Rather than be part of the actual day-to-day machinations of what happens to their data will result in them simply opting out of their data being used at all, so they can get back to the higher priority items on their plate.
I would posit that GDPR is a temporary spotlight to shine on consumer data privacy, and a necessary one at that, which gives some protection to consumers, but which will likely fade into the background in a matter of weeks.
U.S. companies that adopt GDPR globally are doing a good thing and should be heralded, but their actions aren’t going to have much teeth until the U.S. adopts some type of similar legislation and that will likely take a year or more.
In the meantime, most consumers will go back to oversharing on social networks and maintaining use of their loyalty cards and frequent buyer programs and allowing their data to be used across the board. I
If you want to see impact, get involved and be more assertive at maintaining some control. My advice: Unsubscribe from email when you can and feel it is necessary, and secure some kind of online system for reviewing your personal information. These are strong tools to help you take some additional control over your online profile.