Stop complaining about GDPR

I get it. I really do. You’re building a company that’s processing personal data and are frustrated by Europe coming up with a new set of rules.

Making changes to your privacy statement or terms of service is the easy part. If you’re working on a CRM, ad tech product or E-Commerce platform, you are most likely looking at product changes. Oh, and please get started on appointing a Data Protection Officer (DPO).

It’s easy to complain about .eu bureaucracy. It’s easy to complain about a 200-page document coming from a bunch of politicians out of Brussels. But let’s take a quick step back first.

What is GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) is a regulation by which the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission intend to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the European Union (EU). It also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU. The GDPR aims primarily to give control back to citizens and residents over their personal data and to simplify the regulatory environment for international business by unifying the regulation within the EU.
Source: Wikipedia

For the people

Let’s not forget that these rules were invented for the people. The tech industry is moving at such a fast pace, and old rules just haven’t caught up to what’s going on today.

The problem

While technology is eating up the world, we are slowly falling asleep behind the driving wheel. We’re addicted to our phones, blindly follow what the media feeds us, and the current media environment and our short attention spans can drive the outcome of the presidential election.

Therefore quoting Trump’s tweets, or quoting the latest stupidest thing that any political candidate or anyone else says, is an effective way to exploit people’s basest instincts. And that is dumbing the entire world down.
Source (the Guardian): Evan Williams

I think most people don’t even know how advanced today’s data collection initiatives and learning algorithms are. Most of us do not fully understand how much sensitive personal information is collected and stored, or how that affects our day to day lives.

Millennials — or those between the ages of 18–24 — check their smartphones an average of 69 times per day — the most often of any other age group included in our data.
source: Verto Analytics

All data captured and analyses used to follow us around the internet and efficiently target ads or content to increase engagement or shape your opinion about a brand or topic. To make matters worse, collected information is often frequently sold to the highest bidder.

Software is eating the world

We’re just scratching the surface of what data algorithms (AI, deep learning, Natural Language Processing, Predictive modelling) are capable of. I am confident that at a distant point in time our algorithms will become so efficient that it’s just flat out creepy.

While sending a personalized mailing with a list of suggested products might benefit the customer, sending a brochure advertising baby prospects because pregnancy signals were caught through purchase behaviour analysis is flat out creepy.

Continuing this path will soon bring us into a Wall-E like situation where we’re collectively getting dumb, brainwashed by smart algorithms that know what content, product or emotion we’re craving for.

Make no mistake; computers will outsmart us when it comes to this stuff.

Taking control back

Last week I bought a pair of jeans. Before taking my money, the cashier insisted on setting up a client profile requesting my birth date, mobile number, email and home address. When he noticed I was feeding him fake information (0477 12 34 56 is not a likely cell phone number) we had a brief conversation about why I didn’t want to give him those details.

But the information you give us is only used to send you a gift on your birthday.

I feel like more and more consumers are more aware of everything that’s going on. An example is the popularity of ad blockers growing where almost 30% of devices today is protected by an ad blocker.

People are using browser incognito mode more than ever (is that correlated to the popularity of porn sites?), email subscribers become pissed if they can’t opt out and Spain is suing Facebook over collecting and abusing personal data. Enough is enough.

People don’t want their data to be mined and don’t want to be stalked surfing the net.


Being in the CRM technology space GDPR is a big deal. The whole point of a CRM is to allow organizations to store, segment, document and organize their customers (or partners, stakeholders, …) and therefore we’re one of the most important suspects this legislation was created for.

GDPR applies to all companies storing information on EU citizens. Those citizens should be allowed to know what data is held, where it is being stored and who has access to it.

So instead of complaining I see this as a major opportunity where software vendors can help their clients become compliant — and help companies respond to requests to correct, amend or delete personal data.

Getting there

First of all the organizations that do not have their marketing/PR departments integrated with a CRM should review this as using a CRM is a critical step towards being GDPR compliant. At the same time, a lot will depend on the capability of those organizations managing their customer information and CRM technology will be a vital part of this process.

Secondly, CRM vendors should provide their clients with all the tools they need to be GDPR compliant. Clear visibility of information, tracking customer opt in/out actions and granular permission controls on who can access which information are product/technical challenges but once these are adressed the CRM platform it automatically makes their clients closer to being GDPR compliant.


Let’s all remember that GDPR is a good thing. Honesty, transparency and mutual consent are great foundations on which organizations can build relationships with consumers and stakeholders.

So these new rules might appear to some like yet more hurdles and red tape — but then, just think about the alternative.