Have you been bombarded with emails in the last couple of weeks asking for permission to keep your details on file? The reason for it all is the advent of the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The regulation aims to create a Europe-wide set of data privacy laws, which includes the UK in the current pre-brexit phase.
Any details collected by companies that are specific to an individual and that can be used to identify you are covered by the directive. The ways that companies process, store and gather consumer data are covered by GDPR. Fines of 4% or £17.6 million of global annual turnover will be levied upon companies that fail to comply.
While the requirements for companies present a new challenge, consumers have indicated that they are in favour of the new rules according to Veritas, the data management company. According to the study, 40% of people plan to access the information held by companies under GDPR. The companies that people are most likely to request information from are insurance companies, social media companies and retailers at 56%, 48% and 46% respectively.
Facebook's recent data breach and the fake news phenomenon have sparked the interest of consumers in the way their data is handled.
But what concerns do consumers have? 56% said that they do not feel comfortable having personal data on systems they don't have access to.
The right to have their data deleted was seen as being important to 47% of respondents. Some people wanted to test businesses in order to help them to decide whether to continue on with them.
GDPR could seriously affect firms that are judged to have been non compliant, giving pause to investors that may be interested in them. Russ Mould of AJ Bell says that the new regulations could affect companies in different ways:
"This is perhaps most relevant for consumer-facing firms such as retailers, tour operators and leisure companies. It seems logical that they will have a smaller database following the GDPR rule changes, so they will have to try harder with marketing in order to collect customer data or find other ways of getting hold of people’s contacts details, such as email addresses."
Facebook and Google derive significant portions of their revenue from online advertising, so could be seriously affected.
More traditional companies like the Royal Mail could also be affected due to lower mail volume. Wetherspoons, the pub chain, decided to delete it's social media presence rather than maintain their marketing lists.
GDPR however, could be good for companies as it will emphasise the importance of data and guard against future data breaches.
GDPR – what investors need to know