GDPR for US Websites

Posted on
November 15, 2018
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If your business boasts a website, it’s imperative that it complies with all legal issues. Privacy has been a major issue for online interactions in recent times, and GDPR is one of the newest laws that you need to understand and appreciate.

Here’s everything that owners of US websites need to know about GDPR and how they can navigate their way through the minefield to balance legal compliance with business aspirations.

What is GDPR and Why Should I Care?

GDPR, which is an abbreviation of General Data Protection Regulation, is privacy legislation that came into effect on May 25, 2018, and is designed to give citizens of the European Union the ‘digital rights’ that they deserve when browsing the internet or supplying personal details to retailers and online businesses.

The rulings apply to any company or organization wishing to store data supplied by customers from the EU, irrespective of where the business is based. Essentially, then, any commercial venture that plans to deal with European clients will want to ensure that their operations comply with GDPR legislation.

Otherwise, there could be very severe repercussions – we’ll get onto those soon.

What Does Personal Data Include Under GDPR?

The GDPR laws promise to protect consumers and web users with the privacy of their personal data. This personal data can cover a wide range of attributes, including;

  • Basic identification details including name, contact details, and ID numbers.
  • Web history including cookies, IP addresses, and RFID tags.
  • Sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious data, and political views.
  • Health, medical information, and biometric data.

Essentially, then, any data relating to a person’s background or history can be considered personal data that is protected under the GDPR guidelines, and this extends to photos too. After two years of preparation following the passing of the bill, organizations have had more than enough time to acclimatize. Those that haven’t can be punished.

How will GDPR Impact US Websites?

The aforementioned punishments are pretty severe for US websites. In fact, failure to comply with those rulings can lead to fines of equating to either €20m or 4% of global revenue depending on which value is greater. For this reason alone, all US websites planning to collect and store data from EU citizens must take responsibility.

Every US website should always ask for consent when collecting data from EU visitors (this is a good habit in general too). Likewise, all websites should let users know exactly what they are signing up for along with how the info will be used. If users were signed up before GDPR came into place, it is a legal requirement to contact them now to satisfy the demands of the changes.

Of course, aside from the legal compliance issues, US websites should appreciate that consumers now have greater expectations than ever before. If your website fails to keep data protection and privacy under control, there’s a strong chance that any appeal with the EU market will be lost in an instant.

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