A few weeks ago I set aside a couple hours to work on getting the See Jane Write website ready for the General Data Protection Regulation (or GDPR) set to go into effect May 25. I figured it would take me about an hour to read up on GDPR and figure out exactly what it is and another hour to make whatever changes were necessary.
Three hours later I found myself in tears, drowning in legal information I didn’t understand and declaring that I was going to shut down See Jane Write LLC so I wouldn’t have to deal with this mess!
So if you’ve been wondering exactly what GDPR is and how it affects you I’m going to try to explain but first a quick disclaimer: I AM NOT A LAWYER and this is not legal advice. I’m just going to share some of what I’ve learned and point you toward some resources that might help you.
What is GDPR and why should I care?
GDPR is a new privacy law approved by the European Union Parliament that covers how you collect, use, and process personal data of anyone based in the EU. Personal data is anything that can be used to identify a person including their name, email address, bank or credit card information, IP address, location, cookie strings, etc.
You may be thinking that since See Jane Write is based in the United States I don’t have to worry about this. Think again.
This law applies to you even if you have just one client based in the EU or just one person in the EU on your email list! I have hundreds of people on my email list who live outside the U.S. and because we live in the age of the world wide web, you probably do, too.
There are three main things you need to do to get GDPR-compliant and they are things you can actually do before May 25.
Side note: To be clear, if someone in the EU signs up for your webinar you can send them emails about the webinar (this would fall under what the new law calls “legitimate interest”) and you can email clients and customers in the EU about whatever product or service they purchased from you (as this would be considered necessary to “fulfill a contract”), but you can’t add them to your general email list.
In their extremely helpful webinar, Lisa Fraley and Gena Shingle Jaffe said you can still offer freebies but you have to change your marketing language. Instead of “Sign up here to get my free checklist” you need to say “Sign up for my email newsletter and I’ll send you my free checklist.” In other words, you have to lead with the email newsletter thanks to this new law.
Before you freak out, keep in mind that the GDPR police aren’t waiting to pounce on every blogger and coach who isn’t fully compliant by May 25. If you do run into trouble it will most likely be because a disgruntled client based in the EU reported you. And if they do you could face some hefty fines, so you should take this seriously. But don’t have a panic attack over it like I did.
Let me stress again that I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice and, honestly, this just scratches the surface of all the information I’ve been taking in over the past few weeks, but I didn’t want you to feel as overwhelmed as I did, so I just stuck to the basics. Below are some other resources you might want to check out:
Replay of a GDPR webinar by Lisa Fraley and Gena Shingle Jaffe
Are you GDPR Ready? What Marketers Need to Know by Kim Garst
How to Get Your Website Ready for GDPR by Shannon Mattern