The Internet did not only revolutionise communication and exchange of information – it radically transformed how businesses provide services too, with online shopping a prime example. As we become more and more aware of our role as online consumers, we also become aware of the risks. So, if you have ever felt concern about how e-commerce sites handle the personal information you share with them, you will have one more reason to feel secure this coming May, as the new EU privacy rules kick in.
Online Shopping Claims More and More Consumers in Europe
Online commerce is gradually securing its place in the market, as more and more consumers turn to online shopping. After all, it saves time and effort, which you can spend with your loved ones or investing in more careful shopping on items that matter more, like clothing. E-commerce has seen a boost in sales in the past years, as it is estimated that it will amount to more than $3.5 trillion (almost £2.5 trillion) in the next five years. Although China and the US continue to lead the market, EU countries are strong players in terms of online sales revenue, with numbers that continue to rise each year. The UK came first at over $190 billion in 2016 (more than £135 billion), while France and Germany followed at almost $80 billion (£56.5 billion) and $75 billion (£53 billion) respectively.
Most online stores handle personal data every day; from names and delivery addresses to banking information and demographic details to confirm identity when ordering online, there is a lot of sensitive information that online retailers store and handle routinely. In this context, the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), set to consolidate and restructure the EU legislation on privacy and data protection, will impact online commerce to a great degree, as it demands of businesses to take certain measures to safeguard their clients’ privacy. Otherwise, they will be met with hefty fines – rising to 4% of global revenue.
New EU Privacy Regulation Safeguards Your Personal Data
According to the latest GDPR articles online, and especially Article 25, the concepts of “data privacy by design” and “data privacy by default” are introduced. The first means that online retailers need to take suitable organizational and technical measures in order to make sure that personal data security and privacy are embedded into the complete lifecycle of the products and services they provide. Data privacy by default essentially means that businesses only collect and handle personal information that is necessary and make sure that only people who need to, have access to it.
So, do not be surprised if, shortly before or after May 25th, when the GDPR is set to come into force, you are hit with privacy notice updates on your favourite e-shops. The new rules might also mean that businesses will make the checkout process more secure by introducing more authentication mechanisms and that your personal data will be updated to include only what is necessary. Alternatively, online shops might seek consent more often in order to process your personal data – which could result in a bit of a hassle for online buyers.
Although the clock is ticking for the implementation of the GDPR, not many online businesses have caught up to speed yet. So, exactly how online shopping providers will incorporate the new obligations, it remains to be seen.
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