Happy Birthday GDPR, We'd Forgotten You Were Here

GDPR celebrates its first birthday on Saturday, and so we can all expect a lot of references to the legislation's impact a year after it was introduced.

I suspect Marketing Week has already hit the nail on the head, however, with exclusive research that shows Brits are pretty split on seeing any benefit. Nearly half suggest they are not aware of any improvement in the past year, although nearly a third think there may have been some progress on how companies use data. Around 17%, however, think that things have gotten worse.

So it's a split result, which is also evident in whether consumers feel better placed to control their personal information. Roughly a third think it is, and roughly a third think it isn't. 

Again, around 40% think companies are now being more transparent in how they use our data, which means roughly as many are not convinced they are.

When it comes to legality, around 40% don't think companies are too bothered by the need to act within the law. At the same time, around one in two Brits professes to now know a lot more about their data rights. So for those companies that don't stick to the law, you're now dealing with a customer base that is far better informed than before. 

And if you want to put all of this to the test, just one in four thinks email marketing is now more relevant to them. They are outnumbered by the one in three who believe email marketing is even less relevant than it was a year ago.

The article presenting the research pretty well sums up, in my opinion, what the UK population is feeling. It is arguable that it is the same across the EU.

People have been seriously shocked by the Cambridge Analytica scandal and they are also scratching their heads still about why so many businesses are still regularly in touch when they can't quite remember giving them permission too. Perhaps a few people have forgotten that "legitimate interests" is just as legal a reason for processing their data as informed consent. 

I would also say, the people are right because, to be honest, the industry feels the same way. We have complaints about how the tech giants lumped together consents through a process that it is difficult to say involved granular and informed consent.

All eyes are now set on data protection watchdogs across Europe to see what they make of the complaints and whether the massive pools of data the tech giants hold on us are being stored legally.

So to be honest, we're a year on and the jury is out, even among the marketing experts, as to whether things have got better. 

It's little wonder, then, that the public is split roughly down the middle between those who think there have been improvements and those who disagree, with many sitting in the middle and not noticing any difference.

For this we can look to "legitimate interests" allowing companies to carry on as usual after a check to ensure they do no harm and people would expect for them to be in touch, as previously. We also have shock over how the tech giants have acted around privacy as the industry waits to see whether a data watchdog finds a reason to consider fining someone the size of Google or Facebook.

So rather than a quick, incisive action to clean up processing data, the person in the street has good reason to not truly notice any major difference in privacy, a year on from GDPR becoming law. 

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