Since the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by the European Union (EU), every business website needs to inform users about the data it collects. Severe data breaches at Yahoo, Uber and other companies have brought privacy concerns to the forefront. Making your website GDPR-compliant is necessary and helps protect users’ data.
Understanding what the GDPR is and how to implement it can feel overwhelming. Let’s look at what the GDPR act covers and how you can make your site GDPR-compliant.
The GDPR is an EU regulation that protects the online privacy of all EU citizens. It covers how personal data is used and extracted when users visit and interact with a website. This act affects all websites since they will likely get visitors from the EU region.
Here are some key features of the GDPR act that affect businesses:
The intent behind the GDPR is to protect people against data breaches. Most WordPress sites or other sites collect information in different ways. If a site uses analytics, WordPress forms, opt-in forms or email marketing, it collects personal information.
Your biggest concern as a website owner is to gain consent from site visitors. According to the GDPR, you must get explicit consent from EU citizens to collect and process their personal information. You cannot share this data with your advertising and remarketing accounts without consent.
Before you begin:
Educating yourself on GDPR compliance is worth the investment. GDPR-compliant businesses can build trust and avoid costly fines and downtime.
Collecting data is vital to business sustainability but it shouldn’t be abused. Every data collection point should provide the user with how the collected data will be used and stored.
To collect data, the user must be at least 16 years old. If you engage with minors, you must verify the user’s age without permission from a parent. A separate parental form is required if the user is under 16 before you can lawfully collect the data.
It’s worth noting that GDPR does not require a double opt-in for email lists. However, a double opt-in is an excellent practice to ensure you are verifying each email address and are only sending to your target audience.
All data collection should be logged and tracked through a seven-step process. Only collect data that is necessary for your business.
Create a document for each data collection point and keep them together in one place. Keeping detailed records with a data register can help you have a smooth audit process or handle a data breach should you even need to prove compliance.
Collecting IP addresses alongside email addresses can qualify as personal data. If your business collects IP addresses, seek guidance to ensure GDPR compliance.
Continuously monitor third-party risks. Each vendor you use should also follow GDPR compliance guidelines so you don’t risk your customer data when working with other companies.
While not every business will need a DPO, it is part of the GDPR guidelines that you must appoint one if your company meets any of the following conditions:
There are no GDPR-specific guidelines for “large-scale” data processing for a DPO appointee. If you are questioning whether your business should appoint a DPO, it’s wise to designate one to ensure compliance. Always choose a DPO that works in or near your central headquarters, even if that location is outside the EU.
There’s good news for WordPress users. WordPress now has GDPR-compliant features as part of its core. To begin making your WordPress site more GDPR-compliant, you need to update to WordPress version 4.9.6 or higher, as they have many built-in privacy settings.
As of 2023, there are more than 800 million WordPress websites, over 40% of the global website platform market share.
Within these WordPress versions there are new key features that adhere to GDPR policy. They include explicit consent in comments, new data export and erase features and a policy generator.
In older versions, WordPress stored people’s names and details automatically when filling in comments. This ensured that people did not have to retype their information when making a new comment.
Now, WordPress includes a checkbox that people have to check manually. Doing so means that their names and emails are remembered and they don’t have to retype them.
WordPress has added two items under Tools in the dashboard: Export Personal Data and Erase Personal Data.
You can use these to easily export a user’s information into a .zip file or completely erase them from your database if they request it. These features support you in managing users’ data more efficiently and automatically.
You can also choose Create New Page. This creates a new page with pre-made content for disclosures and privacy information. There are also helpful headings and suggestions. You will have to create content for these sections.
With these significant features in place, WordPress makes it easy for you to take a step toward GDPR compliance. Let’s look at some other things you need to take care of.
It isn’t possible to cover everything you need to know to make your website 100 percent GDPR-compliant. You need to get legal advice to do so. However, here are some critical aspects of your website that you can look after. This will make your website conform to the act more closely.
It is generally a good idea to encrypt traffic to your website. Do this by using HTTPS for your website. There are many benefits to moving to HTTPS. It also gives visitors to your site a feeling of security and trust.
Users need to know that your site will collect their data when using your contact form. This is the case with any other form on your site, such as a registration or opt-in form.
Create a tick box so users can click on it to confirm that they accept your terms of service when they click submit. You have to add another tick box so that users know you will send them additional marketing communication. The tick box must not be checked beforehand. Users need to click on it to give explicit consent. Fortunately, popular contact forms like WPForms, Ninja Forms and Contact Form 7 make it easy to add these tick boxes.
It’s necessary to notify users on your site that your website collects cookies. You can do this by creating an overlay with a cookie notification plugin. Some plugins you can use are Cookie Notice and Cookie Consent.
Have a system in place to inform users about policy updates and data breaches. You can use an email blast to update users about policy changes. Another helpful way is to use a GDPR compliance plugin to create notifications for you.
To manage this you must anonymize the data before storage and processing. Doing so can be complicated if you manually add Google Analytics to your site. However, you can use a tool or a plugin that automatically connects Google Analytics to your site. Choose one that has GDPR compliance options and can make data anonymization easy.
Implementing GDPR creates a good impression in visitors’ minds. According to WPForms, nearly 88 percent of consumers ready to share personal information want transparency about how businesses use their information. Adding GDPR policies helps you and your business more than it inconveniences it.
Although the GDPR act may seem intimidating, it is beneficial to everybody. It aims to prevent future data breaches and protects people and businesses.
It ensures that people’s personal information is not misused. Companies are more vigilant about how they collect and manage data.
It also creates more trust in those businesses that comply with the GDPR act. You can take several steps immediately to inform users about how you collect and use data. You’ll be able to implement the GDPR requirements by following the suggestions here and engaging with your users.