Blogging

For Bloggers, the Biggest Lesson of GDPR Isn’t About Privacy

If you’re sick of hearing about GDPR, the General Data Protection Regulation, you’re not alone. But ask yourself why you’re so sick of it.

The General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, is getting a lot of attention these days.

You’d think that it’s something that lawmakers just passed within the past couple of weeks. And you’d be wrong.

In fact, you’d be off by a couple of years! The European Union law was adopted in April 2016.

This leads to the inevitable question of why you’re suddenly getting all these emails about privacy. It makes you wonder why you’re being asked if you want to remain on email lists. You may also question why sites like mine are asking you to accept cookies.

If this was passed two years ago, why is everything happening now?

There are two answers to the question.

The first involves the GDPR enforcement date.

As of May 25, 2018, the law passed way back in 2016 becomes enforceable.

I’m not an attorney, and I don’t play one on the blogosphere. But I think it’s important that you know this much: the law affects everyone, not just websites or businesses in the European Union. If you’re a site based in the United States, Canada or Timbuktu, you have to follow the law if you collect data on people who live in the European Union.

If you don’t, you could face an absurd fine of close to $20 million for violating the law.

Sure, it’s easy for small bloggers to think, “Well, that’s a law meant to take money from the big guys like Amazon.” But are you really willing to take that gamble?

Those of us who aren’t so willing have been trying to get information on what we need to do, and that sense of urgency has been exacerbated by the fact that answers have not exactly been easily obtained.

Just the other day, I posted a tweet to a popular blogging group. I asked a simple question: who’s the resident GDPR expert in the group?

Crickets.

A few weeks back, I wrote about the fact that even major data processors like Google essentially had the same answer to the question of what their plans were: “We’re working on it.”

The second is a much bigger problem: procrastination.

Hey, we all find ways to procrastinate on something, right? Some of us even do it intentionally, even if only subconsciously, because we think we work better under deadline pressure.

All of us who run websites should have known about this for two years now. Most of us only learned of it this year when news started pointing out it would affect us all.

But everyone waited.

Granted, part of this is to be expected. This law isn’t a single-page list of a few quick steps. Like all such major laws, it’s a mountain of text that people have to read, decipher and understand before they can even begin to take action.

But it seems as if that process didn’t really begin until March. And some of us were left trying to figure out what to do right up until the deadline. There’s almost no way something’s not going to be missed in this rush to comply at the last minute.

The lesson for bloggers in this is to plan ahead. Plan further ahead.

If you’re going to wait until the last minute, you’re probably going to miss something. You’re probably going to do a less-complete job of things because you’re cramming to finish something.

It applies to everything we do as bloggers. Some of us have learned to “crash together” a blog post when we have to. But I think most of us would agree that we can usually write a better post when we have more time.

For bloggers, it’s an excellent example of what not to do: to wait until you can’t wait any longer then scramble to produce something.

Mistakes are always possible. Oversight can occur no matter how much we plan.

But at least a little planning is almost always better than no planning at all.

If there’s one good thing about the maddening rush to get it in gear over GDPR, maybe it’s that reminder.

What are you putting off right now about your blog that you need to get to work on right away?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.