For the second year in a row, April has been the month of consumer data privacy. April 2021 was marked by the release of Apple’s IOS 14.5 which changed the dynamic of mobile marketing. And this year, Google will be releasing a similar update set to prioritize consumer protections against aggressive data collection on Android mobile devices.
However, its impact stretches even further back – now approaching six years ago with the official passing of GDPR. One of the most impactful legislation in data privacy, GDPR set the tone for an era prioritizing consumer protections and is still the bar on aggressive legislation against marketing and collection agencies. This week as we mark the anniversary of GDPR, Jacob Borgeson, director of product marketing at ZPD agency, Wyng, shared his thoughts on its impact with us.
The Spring and Summer of 2018 was the first time the term “GDPR” was discussed in the industry. In March of 2018, I had been marketing for companies with a global customer base for about a decade; including startups, Fortune 500, and medium-sized companies. At the time, my startup’s website and marketing were built on Hubspot, and I first heard about GDPR, and an impending crisis set for May 19th via some alarming emails from Hubspot.
It was communicated to change all of my forms, re-examine all my customer data, and possibly conduct a campaign to confirm that all my contacts actually wanted to hear from me. This would be a big, unplanned, unexpected challenge that could result in losing thousands of valuable contacts from the database – or else face fines up to 4 percent of company revenue!
Looking back now, it causes both laughter and tears; how much panic there was when being told we had to respect a person’s right to control their own data. This clearly reflected how far marketing had sunk in terms of abusing data and invading privacy. While most people might argue that it hasn’t improved much, I think the signs point to us moving to a more privacy-first world are there, and growing stronger. But let’s review what impact GDPR has had first.
Appreciating This Landmark Legislation
GDPR was enacted almost 6 years ago. On this anniversary of “the toughest privacy and security law in the world,” it is appropriate to look back at what that law has done and appreciate how impactful it has been on the lives of everyone in the world.
The fact is that GDPR set the stage. Nobody at the time, at least not that I talked to, really appreciated the impact it would have 6 years later.
We went from 0 percent of the world having personal data protection via law to almost 70 percent in 2023. Over €1.6B in fines – mostly to some of the largest and most powerful companies in the world. GDPR changed the way websites, email, and digital interactions occur at a fundamental level
There is no question that GDPR changed the perception and discussion around privacy, and it is still evolving – we are currently working through the issue of cookies and infinite popups.
I am really excited about this 6th birthday of GDPR. I want to say Happy Birthday and thank you for beginning a new privacy-first era.
The author, Jacob Borgeson is Director of Product Marketing at Wyng.