3 Things I’ve Learned from Reading GDPR Break-up Emails*

First Lesson: 50 Shades of Bullshit

I have received 18 GDPR break-up emails (so far, you’ll never know!)

  • Opt-in (or refresh my consent, confirm I’d continue hearing from them or whatever) — Otherwise I would be unsubscribed and not hearing back from them ever and ever;
  • Opt -out (i.e. signify that they could go to hell) — Otherwise, I would continue to receiving exciting and insightful news (i.e. they would go on with spamming me); or
  • Change my email preferences — This would take me to a bulky “privacy dashboard” for me to learn first that this company had my email and second how many different newsletters feeds I — for some reason — was being subscribed to.

Second Lesson: Small Firms Caught Red-Handed

It was not a surprise to me that most GDPR break-up emails I received came from small firms. SMEs have usually less time to obtain proper information and less money to invest in sound legal advice. What’s more, panicky companies tend to herd and copy whatever good or bad regulatory practice they see their competitors or partners rolling out.

Third Lesson: More Harm than Good

The GDPR break-up e-mails week would have been remembered as a hiccup only for data protection specialists to joke about.

Wrapping up the Shenanigans

On balance, this whole GDPR break-up email thing has done no perceivable good and done some tangible harm, while at the same time wasted everybody’s attention and clogged up our inboxes for no reason. This is a rare feat that — in a certain way — ought to be saluted. If credit should be given, it would be to misinformation about the GDPR, fueled by alarming privacy experts. The misunderstanding of GDPR’s real impacts on business is the one and only cause of these shenanigans.

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Adrien van den Branden

Adrien van den Branden

Co-founder and former CEO of Canyon, a contract automation software, acquired in 2022 by Yousign, theEuropean eSignature leader. Angel investor and CEO advisor.