As the world gets more and more digitized, people are getting more concerned about their privacy. When browsing the internet, they are very particular about the information they key into the forms or elsewhere. Many people regularly delete the cache and cookies from their devices. This is because they fear that websites might use their information illegally or in a way that would infringe their privacy rights.

There has been a growing controversy lately about how websites should process and handle sensitive user information. As internet users, we leave traces of our data and information on every website that we visit. Website owners access our browsing information, contact info, email addresses, credit or debit card details, and other data types. This is the kind of data that the privacy policy of websites should seek to protect.

This applies particularly to eCommerce websites or online stores. People who shop online are typically cautious about the payment details that they key into these websites. They do not want their money to leak out of their bank accounts without their consent or awareness or the website to make any other unauthorized use of their credit cards. It is thus up to website and business owners to ensure complete security for their customers in this regard.

T&C describing the general conditions of a Strikingly user's ecommerce site

Image taken from Strikingly user’s website

That is why websites these days need to have GDPR compliance. To understand what that means, we need to discuss what GDPR is. It is something that both website owners and users need to be aware of to know their rights and responsibilities towards it. If you know the importance of protecting people’s privacy rights on the internet, understanding GDPR would not be complicated for you. This post is a guide to GDPR for all internet users, whether you are running a website of your own or regularly browsing through numerous websites across the internet.

What is GDPR?

GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation. It was passed in May 2016. The GDPR is a legal framework that establishes guidelines for collecting and processing personal information from internet users residing in the European Union (EU). Its purpose is to protect the digital privacy rights of EU citizens.

The regulation formally took effect in May 2018. Initially, it only covered European websites. Later on, many websites from different parts of the world also started building privacy policy templates to use on websites for demonstrating GDPR compliance.

GDPR mandates that all European website visitors be given certain data disclosures. It provides European Union citizens more control over how their data and information is used. This particularly applies to personal information. Personal information refers to any data connected to an individual, including personal identification info, biometric information of an individual, health information, and website data (location, cookies, IP address, etc.).

Who Does GDPR Apply To?

Even though GDPR started as legislation applicable for businesses operating within the European Union, today it applies to all organizations that offer goods or services to EU businesses or customers. This means it is ultimately applicable to almost every major company in the world. Any firm that deals with EU organizations or individuals by making international sales need to have a GDPR compliance strategy.

T&C stating the limitations on liability of a Strikingly user's website

Image taken from Strikingly user’s website

Why is GDPR Important?

It is essential for any business dealing with EU corporations or customers to understand the importance of GDPR. This is because GDPR is primarily the single authentic source for the rules that all EU businesses have to adhere to. Understanding GDPR makes it easy for organizations to make data transfers among EU countries faster and more transparent. Here are a few other factors that increase the importance of GDPR.

1. Empowerment of EU Citizens

As EU citizens get to have more control over the use of their personal data through GDPR compliance, this legislation empowers them. It gives them confidence as they browse through the internet. Before GDPR was passed, the European Commission discovered that only 15% of EU citizens felt secure and had complete control over the information they passed online through various websites. This indicated a very low amount of trust among the general public regarding filling up any forms online or even visiting websites.

GDPR was passed so that these people’s confidence and trust could be boosted, hoping that this would lead to increased online trade.

2. Prevention of Data Breach Activities

GDPR compliance leads to data protection and staff education in organizations. By avoiding non-compliance, this legislation contributes to the prevention of data breaches. In case of a serious data breach, the organization found breaching data in any way is fined up to 4% of their annual turnover or a lump sum amount of 20 million pounds, whichever is greater.

GDPR compliance requires organizations to conduct data protection training for their staff. The goal is to mitigate the risk of data breach incidents.

Why Was GDPR Needed?

The importance of GDPR shows us why GDPR was needed to begin with. Societies are more driven by data these days than they were ever before. This leads to enormous amounts of sensitive data being stored in computers, which increases the risks of cyber-attacks and data breaches.

GDPR was needed to be passed due to the following situations.

1. Phishing Emails

Phishing is among the most common ways for cybercriminals to steal personal information. It is done by sending scam emails. Some scammers are even able to alter the bank details of users through this. GDPR compliance has become essential to protect users from such cyber attacks.

Businesses need to get aware of emails that can potentially contain viruses for the sake of protecting the company’s IT network. Suppose a virus penetrates the hard drive of an organization. In that case, the personal information of all its customers and staff will get compromised, and it’s going to be very easy for a scammer to cause a data breach.

As per GDPR compliance, organizations must organize and install a secure email gateway to all emails in the company’s IT network.

2. Office 365 and GDPR

Most organizations in the world use office 365 software for storing vital information. This information includes many sensitive data, such as employees’ personal information, customers’ payment information, confidential business contracts, and annual organizational reviews. Therefore, the responsibility of protecting this data falls on Office 365.

Since Office 365 runs as cloud software, over 80% of organizations using Office 365 store their data on the cloud. To add an extra layer of protection to this data, Office 365 is required to maintain GDPR compliance. That’s why they have utilized auto-label policies and content searches that help the software locate information easily. By doing this, they ensure the transparency of personal data, and at the same time, make the data easy to be discovered or found.

3. End-User Control

The implementation of GDPR has imposed a stricter control on end-user content. According to GDPR, users should be kept informed of the procedures that their data will be used. All data subjects need to be made aware of the processing of their personal data to bring this into effect. If a user puts an end to their consent, the organization or website must adhere to that. As a result, there will be no harm to the user in giving out their personal information to the website in the first place.

privacy policy of a Strikingly user's blog

Image taken from Strikingly user’s website

How Does GDPR Affect Your Website?

When a website is compliant with GDPR, it ensures that its visitors understand how the website collects and uses their data. If your website has traffic from EU citizens, or if there is a chance that your website is frequently accessed in the EU, you would need to have GDPR compliance on it. How do you do that?

A website is made GDPR compliant by implementing a privacy policy for it. This means you need to draft a privacy policy, publish it on your site, probably on a separate web page, and make it accessible for site visitors to read. You would need to abide by all the points in your privacy policy while dealing with your site visitors, users, members, and customers.

Terms & Conditions page on a website built on Strikingly

Image taken from Strikingly user’s website

As you browse the internet and visit different websites, you will notice that you often receive notifications that alert you about the site’s updated privacy policy. These policies often have clauses that describe how the website collects, processes, and stores user info. They also include warnings about the presence of third-party cookies on the web pages. At times, marketing emails also mention this and ask for your consent to continue sending emails and newsletters to you.

Websites have become extra cautious over the past few years about protecting their user data. Several countries have taken bits and pieces from the GDPR and started implementing privacy regulations to protect their citizens. If you run a website and have a global reach, you need to be careful about these new regulations.

How to Add a Privacy Policy to Your Strikingly Website?

If you have a website built on Strikingly, adding a privacy policy to it is quite simple. The purpose is to make your site GDPR compliant. Follow these steps.

  1. Draft out your privacy policy by the regulations in your country. If you are dealing with EU citizens, you would need to include all clauses of GDPR.
  2. From the left panel on your editor, click ‘Settings’.
  3. Select ‘Legal’.
  4. Check the box next to ‘Show Terms and Conditions’.
  5. Copy and paste the policy that you prepared into the text field.
  6. As long as you have your site’s footer enabled, a link to your privacy policy will appear on the footer. If you have an eCommerce site, it will also appear in your store’s checkout flow.

how to add a privacy policy to a Strikingly website

Image taken from Strikingly

Many website-building platforms offer ready-to-use templates with a draft of the privacy policy. All you need to do is tweak the clauses to make them relevant to your line of business. You still need to master the art of writing a privacy policy to select the most suitable template and edit it according to your phase of business and type of website.

The goal is to provide data protection to your users and site visitors. To avoid headaches, choose a draft of a privacy policy that’s generated by a reliable source. Look into the credibility of the platform you use to build your website and take the privacy policy.

Strikingly is a growing website-making platform trusted by thousands of users. We are a place where you can put your trust regarding the development and maintenance of your site. You can also trust us to craft a legit and suitable privacy policy for your business. Of course, you would need to edit it to enter your business details and tweak it a little to make it relevant to your type of business and website. But we bring down your work to the bare minimum by offering sample privacy policy templates for your site. This makes it easy for you to make your site GDPR compliant.