Generally Distracting Pointless Regulation (GDPR) is now in force

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Image credit: Lia Koltyrina / Shutterstock.com

Now that the dust has settled on the Generally Distracting Pointless Regulation (GDPR) which was meant to stop a load of spam, let’s review. And while we are at it, let’s review the whole pantomime of terms and conditions on the internet.

First, after a year of build up, and many, many, many companies sending emails which actually asked the wrong question and did exactly what they should not have done, nothing has changed.

Many, many, many people did not respond to the emails from clothes, gifts and other companies that they bought a cuddly toy off five years ago, in the expectation that if they did not respond they would, come May 25th, automatically disappear from the company’s email list because they did not opt in. Many companies sent emails asking people to review their settings, but if they are happy to do nothing. That is opting out, not in.

And, since May 25th, have you seen a lessening of the fire hose of spam, offers, holidays, flights, gifts and cuddly toys?

No, thought not. Actually it seems that the opposite is true.

Many companies, well advised companies, took the Generally Depressing Pointless Regulation (GDPR) deadline to review their companies’ terms and conditions.

Here is the thing about terms and conditions.

A company in Scotland manages property. To manage property you need a longish legal document with the terms and conditions in it. You would have thought that people who want to live or work in a property owned by someone else would read the terms and conditions pretty thoroughly, to make sure they didn’t use drawing pins to hang up pictures of Little Mix, if the lease says only use Bluetack.

On page four (not even page 14) of this document is this clause:

‘If you have read this far, please call us and we will immediately send you a bottle of the finest whisky’.

The company has been doing this for ten years.

They have yet to receive a single phone call.

Given that a property transaction is actually quite important on the ‘we need warmth, protection, comfort’  axis you would think that at least some bottles of amber nectar would have been dispatched.

But no.

In fact, another unintended consequence of this Gruesome Dreary Pointless Regulation (GDPR) is that many companies have used it as a shield to show how squeaky clean they are when it comes to using people’s data. And they lied – again – by doing so.

So, of course, we come to Facebook (Google is also available for massive subterfuge when it comes to data).

In San Francisco there are huge Billboards telling us that Facebook is on a crusade to protect us from companies that misuse our data. The bare faced cheek of it is mind-blowing.

And, if you haven’t been on Facebook for a while you are now asked, as part of this crusade presumably, to update your preferences.

Except, when you get to the facial recognition part, you actually cannot back out of it. There is no ‘not now’ button, no ‘back’ button. You have to either accept that they can use your face, or you can delete your account. Nothing else.

The arrogance of it is extraordinary.

Conclusion: the Generic Dull Pointless Regulation (GDPR) is a waste of time. As we, and others, have been saying for years, if you want to use a service on the internet, there is no point in reading the terms and conditions. If you do not click ‘agree’ you cannot use the service.

End of.

And since the Gigantic Dull Pusillanimous Regulator is not GDPR compliant itself, the whole thing is a massive, pointless waste of time.

The only hope is that we will now see the rise of apps, devices and companies whose USP is that they simply will not sell your data, and will be useful and cool enough for us to pay (gladly) for their service and thus welcome some honesty back into our lives.

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to find a phone number – I think it is at the end of page four.

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Alex Leslie
About Alex Leslie 173 Articles
Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher at DisruptiveViews.

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