Creating Ripples: The Impact and Repercussions of GDPR, So Far

By on Aug 28, 2018

“GDPR is coming, GDPR is coming!” For months this was all we heard – everyone was discussing GDPR’s impending arrival on May 25th, 2018, and what they needed to do to prepare for the new privacy regulation. GDPR – the General Data Protection Regulation – first came to fruition on April 14th, 2016, as a replacement for the EU’s former legislation, Data Protection Directive. At its core, GDPR is designed to give EU citizens more control over their personal data. But in order for that control to be placed back in consumers’ hands, organizations have to change the way they do business. In fact, just five months after the implementation date, we’ve already seen GDPR leave an impact on companies. Let’s take a look at the ramifications that have already come to light because of GDPR, and how the effects of the legislation may continue to unfold in the future.

Even though the EU gave companies two years to ensure compliance, many waited until the last minute to act. Currently, no one has been slapped with the massive fines, but complaints are already underway. In fact, complaints have been filed against Google, Facebook, and its subsidiaries, Instagram and WhatsApp. Plus, Max Schrem’s None of Your Business (NOYB) and the French association La Quadrature du Net have been busy filing complaints all around Europe. “Data Protection officials have warned us that they will be aggressively enforcing the GDPR, and they watch the news reports. European Economic Area (EEA) residents are keenly aware of the Regulation and its requirements, and are actively filing complaints,” said Flora Garcia, McAfee’s lead privacy and security attorney, who managed our GDPR Readiness project.

However, the ramifications are not just monetary, as the regulation has already affected some organizations’ user bases, as well as customer trust. Take Facebook for example – the social network actually attributes the loss of 1 million monthly active users to GDPR, as reported in their second quarter’s earnings. Then there’s British Airlines, who claims in order to provide online customer service and remain GDPR compliant, their customers must post personal information on social media. Even newspapers’ readership has been cut down due to the legislation, as publications such as the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune stopped allowing European readers access to their sites in order to avoid risk. “This is the new normal, and all companies need to be aware of their GDPR obligations. Companies outside of the EEA who handle EEA data need to know their obligations just as well as the European companies,” Garcia says.

GDPR has had tactical repercussions too; for instance, it has changed the communication on the way the IT sector stores customer data. A consumer’s ‘right to be forgotten’ means organizations have to clearly explain how a customer’s data has been removed from internal systems when they select this option, but also ensure a secure backup copy remains. GDPR also completely changes the way people view encrypting and/or anonymizing personal data.

What’s more — according to Don Elledge, guest author for Forbes, GDPR is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to regulatory change. He states, “In 2017, at least 42 U.S. states introduced 240 bills and resolutions related to cybersecurity, more than double the number the year before.” This is largely due to the visibility of big data breaches (Equifax, Uber, etc.), which has made data protection front-page news, awakening regulators as a result. And with all the Facebook news, the Exactis breach, and the plethora of data leaks we’ve seen this so far this year, 2018 is trending in the same direction. In fact, the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, which will go into effect January 1st, 2020, is already being called the next GDPR. Additionally, Brazil signed a Data Protection Bill in mid-August, which is inspired by GDPR, and is expected to take effect in early 2020. The principles are similar, and potential fines could near 12.9 million USD. And both China and India are currently working on data protection legislation of their own as well.

So, with GDPR already creating ripples of change and new, similar legislation coming down the pipeline, it’s important now more than ever that companies and consumers alike understand how a piece of data privacy legislation affects them. Beyond that, companies must plan accordingly so that their business can thrive while remaining compliant.

To learn more about GDPR and data protection, be sure to follow us at @McAfee and @McAfee_Business, and check out some of our helpful resources on GDPR.


The information provided on this GDPR page is our informed interpretation of the EU General Data Protection Regulation, and is for information purposes only and it does not constitute legal advice or advice on how to achieve operational privacy and security. It is not incorporated into any contract and does not commit promise or create any legal obligation to deliver any code, result, material, or functionality. Furthermore, the information provided herein is subject to change without notice, and is provided “AS IS” without guarantee or warranty as to the accuracy or applicability of the information to any specific situation or circumstance. If you require legal advice on the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation, or any other law, or advice on the extent to which McAfee technologies can assist you to achieve compliance with the Regulation or any other law, you are advised to consult a suitably qualified legal professional. If you require advice on the nature of the technical and organizational measures that are required to deliver operational privacy and security in your organization, you should consult a suitably qualified privacy professional. No liability is accepted to any party for any harms or losses suffered in reliance on the contents of this publication.


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