Get Answers: GDPR for New Zealand Businesses

Monday 21 May, 2018  | Tips & Tricks

If you own or work for a business that does any type of digital advertising – or basically anything online – you’ve heard the letters “GDPR” mentioned a lot lately.

But if you’re like most busy professionals, you don’t have time to go down internet rabbit holes researching what GDPR is and whether you should care about it. And many of us (admit it) have become accustomed to ignoring notifications about changes to our online world, because we ignored the last one, and the world kept turning.

Unfortunately, the new GDPR changes aren’t something you can afford to ignore. If your company has customers in the European Union, or even targets advertising at people in the EU, it affects you. Not only that, but some aspects of the GDPR are already law, or look set to become law, in New Zealand.

Don’t panic! Remember, a lot of businesses are in this same boat, and there are good resources out there to help. To get you started, we’ve answered some common questions around the GDPR for New Zealand businesses.

STOP! Before you read any further, a disclaimer: We’re marketing experts, not lawyers! This is meant as helpful info, and should not be used as formal legal advice.

Introducing the GDPR

What…are you talking about?

OK, we’ll start from the beginning. GDPR stands for “General Data Protection Rules.” These are EU regulations on data protection and privacy. The basic intent is to give individuals more control over their personal data, how and why that data is collected, and how it is held and used.

There’s a good overview of the eight key rights of individuals covered by the GDPR here on the UK Federation of Small Businesses website.

The crucial date you need to know is 25 May 2018. That’s when the rules go into effect.

My business is based in New Zealand! I don’t have to comply with these regulations, right?

Wrong! The regulations apply to any businesses with customers in the EU – or even businesses that use EU individuals’ personal data for other purposes, such as targeted advertising. EU authorities have the power to impose fines for breach of the regulations, and violators could also face civil proceedings, though it’s not clear how that would look if the business isn’t located in the EU.

Here’s the thing. We really don’t know what repercussions you will face as a NZ business if you don’t comply with the GDPR. Will someone hunt you down Liam Neeson-style in the dark of night? Probably not. But if it’s your business and your money on the line, why take a risk?

GDPR & Individual Consent

This all sounds confusing. Are there any clear takeaways?

One thing that’s 100% clear is the requirement for consent. Individuals have to consent to the collection of their data in a specific, informed, unambiguous way. That means that an individual must be told ahead of time what data is to be collected and how it will be used, and the way they’re told can’t be confusing legalese.

My website’s Terms & Conditions (hidden on an obscure page) state that using the site implies consent to data collection. That’s enough to cover it, right?

Nope. The regulation says that consent should be given by an affirmative act, such as clicking a button, ticking a box or signing a form. The user has to be told that you’re collecting their data, how, and why, and they have to take an action that shows they allow it.

One common method you’ve probably seen are so-called cookie banners, or pop-up windows, that appear when a user first lands on a website. They contain a brief explanation of what data is collected, how and why, and usually have a link to a complete Terms & Conditions page, as well as an “I Agree” button or other method for affirmative consent.

Resources on GDPR for New Zealand Businesses

Are there places out there to get more information?

There’s tonnes of info on the GDPR out there now, but some really helpful NZ-specific resources include this information from the New Zealand Law Society and this post by the Marketing Association of New Zealand.

If you’ve got other great resources to share, we’d love to know about them! Leave us a comment or get in touch on social media @altitudemedianz.

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