Data security is not a topic to be taken lightly. In a recent survey of 7500 consumers, 80% of respondents stated that losing banking and financial information is their biggest data security concern. And that’s not the only type of information people are afraid of losing!
For this reason, security standards and regulations have come to the forefront of the data security world. One such regulation is the GDPR. It affects companies that operate in the European Union (EU), or that operate outside of the EU but do business with residents of the EU.
This article will discuss what the GDPR is, explain more about who it applies to, and suggest some plugins that will help you comply with GDPR regulations. The rules have been put in place to ensure that websites servicing the EU are secure and follow the necessary data privacy breach protocols.
If GDPR regulations apply to you, we strongly recommend that you look into some of these plugins. Ignoring GDPR rules can get your business fined, or worse, you’ll lose consumer trust when your website gets hacked!
Let’s kick things off by answering the question, what is the GDPR?
What Is the GDPR?
GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation. It’s a government regulation that applies to companies operating in the EU and is designed to protect all online consumers in the EU, plus any EU residents who share personal data online.
The GDPR also applies to companies that operate outside of the EU, but only if they store or process information relating to EU residents.
The whole idea is to protect the privacy of consumers in the EU. If you have a small business in the US or Canada, for example, that sells products or services to consumers in the EU, your website needs to be GDPR-compliant.
Consumers’ personal data can include a broad range of information, and the GDPR is very comprehensive in this context. Anything that can be used to trace the identity of an individual is considered to be personal data. This includes a person’s name, address, photos, IP address, and even biometric or genetic data.
The GDPR was put in place because of a growing lack of trust among consumers about how companies handle their personal information. Companies can use personal data for advertising or marketing, and for various other purposes, without the consent of the consumer. That results in an unfair relationship.
The GDPR is meant to empower consumers by giving them more ownership and control over their personal data. It was introduced as a replacement for the less effective and outdated data protection directive.
Since the regulation is new, you’ve been given some time to become GDPR-compliant, but authorities expect you to have had your site in check by May 25th, 2018. If the GDPR applies to your online business, and you haven’t addressed it yet, you should!
How Does the GDPR Work?
The GDPR brings all security compliance requirements pertaining to personal data under one regulatory body. It covers everything a business needs to know about dealing with EU residents, and all the rules they need to comply with. That makes it easier for business owners to follow the rules and take the necessary steps to protect the privacy of their customers.
For consumers, the GDPR means a higher degree of control over personal information. People now have the authority and freedom to request details about the personal data that companies have gathered, and they can opt out of company databases if they choose to. This means consumers can exit a company’s database and not have their information used or processed in any manner.
The GDPR applies to data controllers and data processors. A data controller is a company or an organization that collects and owns the data, while a data processor can be a third-party vendor that processes collected data at the request of a data controller. Both must adhere to the standards set out by the GDPR.
Companies must report any breaches of privacy to the appropriate GDPR authority immediately. This means that, if your website gets hacked, you must inform the authority, and your affected site visitors, within 72 hours of the breach.
This standard is intended to make companies accountable and encourage them to treat consumer data with the utmost care. It also empowers consumers by providing ways they can prevent their personal data from being abused.
Why Should You Take the GDPR Seriously?
You may face serious consequences if you fail to comply with the GDPR. Noncompliance can lead to a fine of up to 20 million euro or 4% of your company’s global turnover. For some companies, that could mean billions of euros or dollars!
Fines will depend on the severity and scale of the privacy breach, and whether the data controller or data processor took the necessary steps for GDPR compliance.
We mentioned the maximum fine above, but you can also face so-called lower fines of 10 million euro or 2% of the global turnover. Those fines are imposed for failure to report data breaches, and for other, smaller issues, like failing to appoint a data protection officer.
You cannot overlook the importance of consumer data protection. Privacy issues are becoming a top priority for online businesses of all sizes. If long-standing internet companies like Facebook can face the wrath of GDPR regulators, you know how serious a GDPR breach can be!
Investing in GDPR compliance isn’t just sensible, it’s a must.
Now that we’ve explained how serious GDPR compliance is, it’s time to look at some tools that will help you with that. There are numerous GDPR plugins for WordPress that you can use to set the foundation for protecting consumer data.
Five Great GDPR Plugins
This section will introduce you to five awesome GDPR plugins for your WordPress website. They all have features that will help you navigate the world of consumer privacy and data protection.
Pixel Jar created GDPR Visitor Consent to give site owners control over the scripts they use to request personal information. If you’re non-technical, a script is a coded program that automates specific tasks on a website.
You could have a script that first captures when a user views a certain section of your site and then displays a pop-up requesting user information.
Installing this plugin on your website will help you request consent to collect personal information from your users at the right time and place, in a GDPR-compliant manner. You’re only permitted to collect and process personal data if you have your visitors’ consent, so it’s absolutely critical to ask for it, strategically, in a way that’s fully relevant to your business.
If your site tracks users with cookies, you must get their consent. Any coded scripts that run on your website for marketing or analytics purposes will require user consent. Getting your site visitors’ buy-in for data-gathering is important, both for building trust with them and for achieving GDPR compliance.
The great thing about this plugin is that it will help you create a GDPR-compliant browsing experience for your users based on the specific consent they have given. For each individual website visitor, you’ll be able to run only the scripts for which you’ve been given user consent.
Cookie Law Info created this plugin to help you keep your website GDPR-compliant for cookie usage. A cookie is a piece of information that gets transmitted between a user’s browser and a web server. Most companies employ cookies to assign unique user IDs, so when a user returns to their website, they’ll get a more personalized experience based on their browsing history.
The GDPR Cookie Consent plugin makes it easy to display a cookie consent banner, manage cookie details, and give users more control over the cookies that are used on the website that collect personal data.
One great feature of this plugin is that it is compatible with many popular multilingual plugins. The language of the consent bar will change depending on the selected language of the template. This way you can offer a more personalized experience for visitors from different countries.
The premium version of the Cookie Consent plugin allows you to:
- perform an automatic scan of your website cookies;
- have data-gathering scripts blocked until the user has given consent;
- show consent bar only for the EU visitors;
- categorize cookies to give users granular control of what they consent to;
- maintain an audit of the consent;
- offer consent withdrawal;
- create various customized designs of the consent bar;
- perform a cookie audit for users to be informed about the cookies used and their purpose;
- audit all of the obtained consent.
This is a more comprehensive cookie-related GDPR plugin that was created by Cybot. Some of its benefits include:
- The ability to customize consent banners to allow users to opt in or out of specific cookie categories.
- More transparency around cookie policies so users are aware of how their personal data is being collected.
- Running monthly scans focused on what kind of data is being tracked and where it’s being sent. This helps website owners know which cookies are handling sensitive user-specific data.
- Allowing users to change or withdraw their consent easily.
- Consent messages that are translated into 44 languages.
- Storage of user consent records in the cloud, ensuring ready access if they’re ever needed.
It’s important to note that installing this plugin won’t ensure 100% GDPR compliance. You’ll still need to address non-cookie related factors to protect user data.
This is a great plugin by App Saloon. WP GDPR makes personal data accessible to its real owners—the users!
Your website visitors can send a request to view details about their personal data that you have collected. At the backend, you’ll receive a list of requests from users that will look like this:
You can respond to users’ requests with an emailed report that details the personal data you’ve gathered.
WP GDPR interacts with other add-ons to decipher all personal information that’s being collected, regardless of which plugin is collecting it. That’s how it helps you provide comprehensive details to users who have asked for the information your site collected about them.
If you’re not up for using multiple plugins to ensure GDPR compliance, this plugin might be the all-in-one solution you need.
The All In One GDPR WordPress plugin goes way beyond basic user consent features. It allows you to send privacy breach notifications to users within the 72-hours time frame required by the GDPR. It also lets users delete their personal information from your database, contact your company’s data privacy officer, unsubscribe from your newsletter, and request user data exports.
This plugin is also compatible with other plugin players, like WooCommerce, Contact Form 7, and MailChimp. Basically, you can consider this plugin your one-stop shop for achieving broad GDPR compliance.
Get GDPR-Compliant and Stay That Way
Now that you’re aware of some plugins that can help you get GDPR-compliant, go ahead and install the ones you need. You should also make sure you keep track of changes to the GDPR; you may have to change your approach, and your plugins, to meet new regulations.
The best thing is to install plugins that are updated by their makers frequently. If you download and install plugin updates on your WordPress site as soon as they’re made available, your site will always be up-to-date with the latest data protection laws.