With the much anticipated General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) less than a month away from coming into law, companies are scrambling to restructure their services to achieve compliance.
For the regular online user, the consequences of this trend are becoming more palpable by the day.
In accordance with the GDPR age of consent to allow personal data collection, WhatsApp recently announced the minimum age for using the popular application would be raised to 16 years. The new policy featured on the companies FAQ page is one of that latest updates to come for major online platforms.
Other media companies have also been rolling out tools that will allow their terms of service to comply with GDPR. Several days ago, Instagram told technology reporting outlet TechCrunch that the platform is in the process of creating “a new data portability tool” to download all content a user has ever put up on the site. “You’ll soon be able to download a copy of what you’ve shared on Instagram, including your photos, videos and messages,” said an Instagram spokesperson.
Another notable example is the series of policy changes made by the giant of social media, Facebook. The company recently announced new policies that prevent applications designed to interact with Facebook to take actions on behalf of users, since many of these actions involve access to private user information. For example, they will no longer be able to RSVP to events on behalf of Facebook users or publish posts on Facebook as the logged-in user, among a raft of other new limitations. Because Facebook is a major tool in the business world, it’s difficult to understate how disruptive policy changes to the platform can be for developers and e-commerce companies. Understanding how detrimental limiting information access could be for app creators and business marketing tools, Facebook set up a page containing a “Platform Review Form” to address the slew of questions and inquiries that will most definitely come as a result of these rule changes.
These examples are hardly a new phenomenon.
The big internet companies have been announcing significant changes to their service policies in response to GDPR requirements since late 2017. Google started letting users choose what data they want to share with its various products. Amazon began improving data encryption on its cloud storage service. In some cases, companies have removed products entirely from the European market because they would violate the new privacy rules. But now that the enactment of GDPR is imminent, changes to some of the biggest platforms on the web are going to be more hard felt.
The recent moves by WhatsApp and other big names in tech to alter their services are just the beginning. Realistically, many online firms will only begin to make changes once GDPR becomes law and the consequences of non-compliance become clearer.