Checking the mail and finding a surprise package is fun; receiving unexpected emails is, objectively, the worst thing in the world. No one enjoys an unnecessarily full inbox, but if you've been online this week, your inbox has likely been flooded with notes about companies changing their privacy policies. It's a bit of a nuisance, especially for those who already hate checking email, but there's actually a reason your inbox is filled with these kinds of messages. A European privacy law, called the General Data Protection Regulation goes into effect Friday, May 25, and it's changing the way companies are allowed to communicate with you and use any data they collect.
CNET has an in-depth explainer that gives an idea of why GDPR originated and what legislators hope to accomplish. Basically, companies are going to have to be more open with you about what data they're collecting and storing. Additionally, people in the EU's member states will be able to request a record of the data a company has collected. Companies are also given three days to let consumers know about any data leaks or hacks. This is big news in the wake of Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal, though the law was passed before it came to light, and it means companies will get in trouble if they hide data breaches.
By the weekend, your email inbox should return to normal because companies will have met the deadline to avoid punishment from EU officials. On the other hand, I've received two GDPR-related updates from companies while writing this article, and I'm not convinced that my inbox will ever be empty again.