The Three Camps of Businesses in the New GDPR World

August 7, 2018 | GDPR

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As I write this, The Data Protection Act 2018, incorporating the GDPR, has been in force for around ten weeks. Much to the surprise of the panic-mongering media, the world has not ended and seems to be showing every sign of GDPR making little to no difference to it continuing to spin on roughly the same axis as it has been doing for the last few millennia. That being said, some businesses may be in for a very rough ride pretty soon…

As the title suggests, businesses seem to have fallen into three distinct camps:

  1.  Considerable efforts have been made and the business is now GDPR compliant, hopefully. Continued compliance will be a challenge but probably not impossible.
  2.  No or little effort made. These businesses are often run by people that do not really understand the GDPR and therefore, do not really see any need to jump through expensive hoops when they can just keep on trading the same as always. These businesses also believe that nothing will happen to them as a result of their lack of action.
  3. Stop trading with anyone in the Euro-zone. Several foreign websites such as the Chicago Tribune, the LA Times, and the New York Daily News simply block access to their content if you happen to have the wrong IP address due to being based in Europe. It is a simple solution to a rather complex and potentially expensive problem.

Ironically, from the point of view of end-users, so far GDPR has been largely irritating and for the most part, only companies in the second camp, the ones that have not done very much towards GDPR compliance, are the ones that have caused their clients the least trouble. The deluge of emails, usually unnecessarily, asking for consent to still contact people from companies in the first camp, along with nearly every app and website wanting users to (again usually unnecessarily) acknowledge a change in a privacy policy document that no one will ever read, seems to just get in the way. I guess that these companies are at least trying but it’s the sheer volume of this stuff that’s the problem! Opting in every once in a while would be OK but when every site that you visit suddenly has a “Please consent to cookie usage” button, then it becomes a pain. It could just be that the majority are getting it right and we don’t notice them because they are not annoying us, time will tell.

It is all starting to remind me a little of the Monty Python scene from The Life of Brian when Reg from the People’s Front of Judea asks, “What have the Romans ever done for us?”. Ultimately, the citizens of Europe will be dragged, kicking and screaming, into a safer world where Privacy-by-Design stops their lives from being utterly transparent to unscrupulous businesses that are Hell-bent on separating them from their hard-earned cash. At the end of the Romans scene it becomes apparent that maybe Roman occupation is not too bad, “All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?” Will it be the same for EU citizens I wonder…?

In the meantime, we shall just have to put up with the inconvenience of dealing with companies trying to be compliant while those in the second camp that have chosen to ignore GDPR continue, in effect, to poke a sharpened stick at the lumbering beast with very big and razor-sharp teeth that is the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The ultimate effect of this game is fairly predictable, but it may take a few years before they manage to get the beast’s full attention.

If you would like to be put in touch with a participating Brigantia partner for GDPR help and advice, then please call Brigantia on 020 3358 0090 or email

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