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A Beginners Guide to GDPR and How it Affects Your Website

GDPR or the General Data Protection Regulation arrived on the 25th of May 2018, and it affects everyone in the European Union, as well as any business that works with an entity or consumer from the EU.

A lot of companies found themselves panicking about the looming state of GDPR in the months before May, but it actually turns out that GDPR was easier to implement than most people expected. After all, the purpose of the regulation was to make people more aware of how they used and gathered customer data.

What is GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation was designed by the European Union as a way of helping to protect customers and consumers against privacy breaches and digital security problems in a world that's becoming increasingly connected. The GDPR is a great thing for the UK, as data breaches have been costing us billions of pounds every year, as large firms have constantly fallen victim to problems with the way they store and manage data.

Though the idea of GDPR might seem complicated at first glance, the truth is that the system comes down to two main factors: keeping customer data secure and making marketing communications as clear and simple as possible. Failing to uphold to the correct standards for privacy may mean that your business is hit with a serious fine, which can equate to 4% of your annual turnover.

How Does GDPR Affect Your Website?

There are a few different ways that GDPR can affect the design of a website. For instance, pretty much every website, no matter how small, will have a contact form which asks people to enter their details and a little bit of basic information. To make these forms compliant with GDPR, companies will need to justify why they're asking for details from their clients. For instance, you could ask for an email address and say, "this is how we're going to contact you."

You can also add a small section to the bottom of your contact form that lets your users agree to the terms and conditions of using your website. A further check box needs to be provided if you plan on using the email address your customer gives you for marketing purposes.

Another component of your website that GDPR affects is your privacy policy. If you don't already have one on your website, then GDPR dictates now is the time to make that all-important change. Privacy policies have always been critical measures in giving your customers the information they need to decide whether they want to convert with you. Your privacy policy should now include any information about how you use consumer data. For instance, do you share the data that you collect with other websites? If so, you'll need your customers to agree to this.

GDPR and Handling Data

GDPR basically requires that any company which collects personal data in the UK or the EU should implement additional policies and protocols to make sure that they have the consent of their users to use their data in a specific way. If you do something with a user's data and they haven't given you their consent, then the result can be an astronomical fine. GDPR even dictates that if your company falls victim to a data breach, you will need to let your customers know about the problem immediately.

For web masters, GDPR simply means that you need to re-think the way that you collect and manage data on your website. For instance, you can no longer have a check-box that is pre-ticked underneath your email forms, which automatically signs your customers up to get marketing emails from you. Instead, you need to convince your clients to opt into those marketing messages instead.

At the same time, it's worth noting that the customers who do agree to your terms and conditions also have the right to take their permission away at any point and embrace the "right to be forgotten." This means that you need to have a secure place that you can store all of your customer's data so that if someone decides they want to leave your system, you can pull their information out and remove it.

To improve the security of customer data, today's website owners in the EU are required to secure all of their information within an encrypted environment. Adding an SSL certificate to your website can help with encrypting that all-important information. Whenever you make GDPR-based changes to your website, simply ask yourself whether you're making it clear how you're using consumer data.

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