After decades of loose online legislation and abstract digital data guidelines, the Wild Western days of the internet are ending.
User privacy and data protection are frequently debated issues, especially with the recent concerns regarding morally questionable social media practices. But now concentrated action is finally being taken though the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The regulations defined in the GDPR dictate how companies must gather and manage user information within the EU. Meaning, any online companies who do business in the EU are going to be affected—regardless of their own location. This includes Ecommerce, so all Magento merchants who provide goods and services to EU consumers also need to adapt accordingly.
Thankfully, Magento is ready for GDPR, but that doesn’t mean Magento merchants can simply proceed without being mindful of the new rules. To ensure GDPR compliance, and continue conducting online business in the EU, there are some steps that must be taken.
To help Magento merchants abide, here’s a quick guide on what you need to protect your store, and your customers.
GDPR went into effect May 25th of 2018, and if violated, the financial penalty is either 4% of a company’s annual turnover or €20 million—depending on which amount is greater between the two.
While the fines may sound intense the intention of GDPR is largely altruistic, aiming to accomplish two primary goals:
1. Make it so the personal data of individual users is always handled with respectful care.
2. Eliminate the obstacles of data sharing between different regions by standardizing regulations across nations.
Overall, the GDPR revolves almost entirely around personal data, which regards a range of specific user information. Namely, anything that can be used to identify an individual.
For example: User names, locations and addresses, photographs, IP addresses, and even biometric data falls under the protection of personal data.
Under GDPR, online businesses are allowed to gather and utilize this personal data if, and only if, the individual it relates to has given their explicit permission. On top of that, GDPR also dictates that gathered data may only be kept for a certain amount of time after permission is initially granted.
7 Steps to Keep your Webstore Magento GDPR Compliant
While the exact guidelines of the GDPR are fairly in-depth, there’s a few simple rules of thumb that will help Magento merchants avoid violations.
1. Only Collect Data which is Absolutely Required
Many businesses make it a habit of acquiring as much personal user data as possible. After all, the more online sellers know about their customers, the better they can cater their businesses to them.
However, this mentality proves dangerous under GDPR. To reduce the possibility of violating a user’s privacy, simply refrain from asking what doesn’t need to be known about them. For instance, if users want to sign-up for your webstore’s emailed newsletter, there’s no reason to request their phone number.
2. Deactivate Default Opt-Ins
Under GDPR, users must give their explicit permission to share data. This means the presence of opt-in by default processes, such as pre-checked boxes, are in violation of the new regulations.
Essentially, a user’s silence should never mean consent, nor should their inactivity indicate their passive acceptance.
3. Update Policy Notifications and Disclosures
Magento merchants need to update this information to let customers know how their personal data is collected and stored. Aside from GDPR compliance concerns, this transparency will help build trust in the more cautious visitors to your Ecommerce website.
4. Provide Easy-to-Locate Links to Privacy Policies and Unsubscribing Options
Updating privacy policies is one thing, but they don’t help if that information is buried somewhere obscure in your website. Furthermore, when users subscribe to the marketing content of your website, they should never be punished by not being able to easily unsubscribe at will.
5. Ensure Collected Data is Secure
Hacking and data breaches are constant dangers for digital vendors. With the GDPR, these vulnerabilities have become even more damaging for online businesses.
This is because maintaining GDPR compliance includes protecting the data you consensually gather from external threats of all kinds. To avoid the typical headaches of security breaches, along with the legal wrath of GDPR violations, strict data protection measures must be taken.
6. Establish Processes that Notify Users of Data Breaches
If a data breach does affect your website, users who have their personal data stored there need to be notified.
To do so in a timely GDPR compliant manner, make sure your webstore has an automated notification process in place.
7. Ensure GDPR compliance with third-party tools and vendors
The steps above will help users maintain GDPR compliance on their end. But these preventative steps don’t mean much if all of their stored user data is hijacked through a third-party’s vulnerabilities.
Because of this, it’s become critically important that Magento merchants use extensions and services that also maintain GDPR compliance.
Conclusion: Final Tips
In the end, transparency is what the GDPR is most concerned with.
This means to stay safe moving forward, Magento merchants need to communicate with users clearly, concisely, and in plain language. To do so, webstores should avoid uncommon legal speak in their privacy policies and present information in a way anyone can understand. More than that, webstores must ensure their activities accurately follow the privacy policies they present.
As a final piece of advice, it’s a good idea for all online businesses to maintain documentation of their data collection processes.
Keeping track of what users consent to, and how that consent was gathered, is a safe record keeping practice that helps prove compliance. If auditing should ever take place, such documentation will help demonstrate that a website operates in-line with the spirit of GDPR.