Easily Make Your Website GDPR Compliant
Developing a media brand takes a long time, especially if you’re bootstrapping it while everyone works a day job. When you finally start getting some momentum and brand recognition, that’s when all the emails start flooding in. Some are painful, like public relations people wanting you to drop what you’re doing and write about their clients for free, and some are fascinating, like schizophrenics wanting you to help figure out what’s causing the voices in their heads. Then there are the worst types, people like the Strategic Partnerships & Marketing Manager over at Rover.com, who thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to send us an email like this one:
You do not email someone out of the blue, tell them they’ve been placed on some generic email list, and then have the audacity to say “Rather not hear from me? Reply to this email with the word UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject line.” We have better things to do than jump through your hoops, Dakota. You’re a senior marketing person at a startup that’s raised over $310 million. You should know better than telling people to take some action to avoid receiving your generic email blasts. Unfortunately, we receive emails like this on a daily basis, and it’s this sort of cow manure behavior that’s led to government regulations that dictate how people should behave online. One of those regulations is called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
What’s GDPR All About?
The GDPR was created by the EU and “aims primarily to give control to individuals over their personal data.” The rule went into effect on May 25, 2018, and affects any website that collects user information from people in the European Union.
Most people have better things to do than sit down and scroll through the eleven chapters of information pertaining to GDPR compliance which is why more than 40% of U.S. news websites currently block traffic from European Union countries. (Don’t worry Europe, you’re not missing much except for a political cat-fight between two equally inept parties.) The reason everyone has their knickers in a twist over GDPR is that failure to comply results in a penalty of up to $23 million or 4% of global annual turnover.
For the many website owners out there who have visitors from Europe and also solicit emails, this is concerning. Even if your revenue streams are zero, do you really want to deal with a bunch of emails from some ponce in Zurich, whinging about how you’re not being compliant? No, you don’t, which is why you should try and do the absolute bare minimum to ensure this isn’t an issue now or going forward. You also want to be aware of what else might be coming down the pipeline.
Ah, California, the State that now thinks it’s perfectly okay to enforce divisive hiring quotas based on gender. (Thankfully, people are now starting to take them to court over this destructive law.) Just imagine what the California Consumer Privacy Act might evolve into over time, what draconian requirements might be coming down the pipeline for web traffic originating from the State of California. (Given our focus on tech investing, around 12% of our global traffic originates from the State of California.) It’s not just about solving for GDPR compliance, it’s also about making sure someone has our back when further regulations are inevitably passed. For that, we’re turning to a company called Termly.io.
Founded in 2017, Delaware startup Termly.io has taken in an undisclosed amount of funding to develop a way for website owners to easily become GDPR compliant. Their tool requires you to input information about your business and the end result is custom-generated documentation that ensures you’re being compliant. In just a few years’ time, Termly has grown into one of the leading privacy software services for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). The product is only free if you have less than 100 monthly unique visitors, so not sure what the point of that is. For everyone with more than 4 people visiting their website per day, the cost is $20 a month to become compliant or $120 a year if you pay up front. Paying $10 a month to ensure you’re GDPR compliant seems reasonable, and maybe that’s why more than 3,500 SMBs are using the platform.
Other documents you can generate for your business include:
- Return Policy – informs customer about policies concerning refunds and returns
- Disclaimer – the dictionary definition says it best – “a statement that denies something, especially responsibility.”
- Cookie Consent – Needed to stay in compliance with the “EU cookie law,” the California cookie law, the GDPR cookie law, the Cookie Monster’s cookie law, etc. etc.
There’s always a good debate to be had over the extent to which governments should regulate the flow of information. Since we have a dog in the race, we’re less interested in discussing semantics and more interested in just being compliant with whatever the regulations du jour happen to be. Termly.io offers a quick fix for a reasonable price and they’re smart enough to expand outside of GDPR so that their business can scale into something much bigger. With around 1 billion websites globally, capturing just 1% of them at $10 a month would give them a $1.2 billion run rate. That’s not a bad little business and might post an attractive acquisition for a legal tech startup like Legal Zoom. With all the Dakotas out there constantly coming up with creative ways to annoy people, we can be reasonably assured that we’ll be moving towards more regulation, not less.
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