You Cannot Hide from the EU’s GDPR

You cannot hide from the EU’s GDPR!  Nice try Zeke, but not good enough!  But we live in America, and not in the EU.  Shocker: It doesn’t matter!  Then I will just close the top! If you connect with a EU member, then he is protected by the rules, and regardless of being based in America, you are required to follow them.  There are stiff penalties for non-compliance, and yes, the EU can come after you in the USA for their euros!  Or should I say, YOUR euros!

What is it?  Before I go on let me say it would take a team of specialized lawyers to figure out what it is about by the way it is written.  Since I am not one of those, or even close, I can not vouch for the accuracy of what I write today.  Maybe my European friends may be able to shed some light on this.  Anyway, the point of it is to give individuals control over their data on the internet, and the right to know who is using it, what for, and the right to have it all removed, i.e. the right to privacy.  Sounds good in theory.  But I am running a low traffic cat blog on WordPress, so what do I care?

I will get to that reason why I care in a moment.  I noticed some of my German blogger friends talking about the GDPR and changing their blogs.  One lady quit blogging altogether “with tears in her eyes” she said, I paraphrase.  Another turned her blog “Private”.  Others turned off their “likes” and “comments”.  Others also removed all gadgets and widgets with links to other people, like “Blogs I follow” , or ‘Posts I like’ , leaving a clean, bare bones looking blog theme.  This is what got me interested into digging into this.

Once again, what is the problem with my low traffic “American” hobby blog?  The big problem is requiring email addresses to make comments on WordPress.  Collecting email addresses leads to being able to identify the person commenting.  I am talking here only about the email addresses of EU commenters and not Americans.  I don’t know where these email addresses go or are stored?  Or what WordPress does with them.  It is a privacy thing I can see.  Here is another big problem.  What if your European follower comes to you and says he wants all his public comments removed from your blog? It is his right under the GDPR.  What if he says, he also wants all his “Likes” removed from your blog?  You must comply according to the GDPR.  Imagine trying to find them all and delete them!  This is the reason some of my German friends have closed comments and disabled likes.  That is the easy way to comply.  The fun of interaction between bloggers is destroyed by doing this.

Additionally, a large disclaimer is required on your blog as well.  Just as an exercise, I have copied some data from various places and put it on my “Disclaimer” page just to give you an idea.  Some is broken English.  It is far from comprehensive.  Maybe a “Europeans Prohibited” sign?!

Help is on the way for WordPressers.  Their tech and legal wizards will very shortly be coming out with “something” new for us to put on our blogs to help us with compliance, but I don’t see how everything could be addressed.  It better come out fast, because we got less than two weeks to become compliant.  I will mention it as soon as I see it.

Like I said at the beginning, I may be wrong.  I hope I am, but I think I am not too far off the mark.

Zeke in box

You cannot hide from the GDPR

 

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40 Comments

  1. The thing about Likes is crazy because anyone who posts a Like can easily deal with that themselves! All they have to do is go to each post where they’ve Liked something and Unlike it by clicking the same button! The comments info that we WordPress.com bloggers see (in comments and also in Contact forms – though the fields in the latter can be adjusted by us) is name, email address, IP number and date/time. If a website is linked, then we can see that too. The IP number gives the location of the commenter – it has to be looked up on a Whois or similar type of site, but it gives approximate location (ie, it usually won’t give exact address, or even accurate nearest city, but it will give accurate country), As an example, this is whois locator: https://www.whois.com.au/whois/ip.html So, in fact, there is more identifying information even in comments and contact forms – even if only visible to the owner of each blog – than at first seems apparent.

    As I understand it, the privacy policy needs to say how visitors to a site can contact the site owner or anyone else associated with the processing of their data (here, for us, it’s ourselves up to a point and Auttomatic.com who own and run WordPress.com), and how they can have it removed if that’s what they want. It’s more of an access thing and telling visitors what they can expect. But part of the ability to delete content is down to the visitors themselves. The Like button, for instance. Also there’s any personally-identifying information that they deliberately or unwittingly include in the content of their own comments!

    There’s really no need to turn off commenting or the Like button, or change anything like that – instead, visitors need to be more responsible about what they do on a site, and also site owners need to take responsibility for how they treat their visitors. What annoys me is that for most people, particularly bloggers with a site with personal or predominantly personal content (non-commercial, at any rate), this is second-nature. It’s only really spammers and ne’er do wells that treat visitors badly and they’re not the people (or bots) that are going to take any notice of this anyway!

    The crazy thing is, I understand most of what’s needed, and I STILL can’t write the damn privacy policy!!! I’ve been trying now for weeks, and it’s just not happening. 😦

    As for how Europeans feel about this: quite a lot feel pretty much the same as you do. It’s a total pain.

    1. Many thanks for your comment today, Val! You get the Feline Cafe medal for longest comment ever actually posted here! I wondered if the comment block could handle it! Ha Ha. I personally like to know where bloggers are from at least country wise. I got a flag on my about page and my state in my name! I use an IP tracker to find out sometimes. Turning off my likes was an experiment that paid off handsomely. Comments have risen dramatically in number. The flaw is you can still like the post or comment in your notifications or in WordPress Reader if you use it. I don’t. The likes attach to my blog, but you just cannot SEE them! I can if I want to. I am aware since I wrote this of all you mentioned as I have brought myself up to speed. Now I realize it really doesn’t matter much at least to bloggers outside the EU like me. It seems more a business thing. Yes, the privacy policy you write is a pain to do on your own, and to my mind is just a bunch of eyewash. If you find anything “catchy” in my privacy statement feel free to use it. I stole most of it from here and there and patched it together like Frankenstein! I haven’t finished collecting body parts! I did notice a lot of Blogger blogs prohibit anyone without a google id from commenting–a google id is the only option given. Fortunately I have one so I just carry on as usual. Once again, thanks for the comment, Val. I hope you feel better after venting your feelings here!

      Best Wishes and luck,
      greg-in-washington

      1. Venting has (possibly) helped me to at least start mine in earnest, but whether I’ll ever finish it is another matter!

        I had my Likes turned off to encourage comments, but I had so many ‘why aren’t Likes on?’ comments that I gave in and turned them on again. I think by now I have enough regular readers that it doesn’t really matter. 🙂

        Your privacy policy is… er… interesting. Er.. mmm.

    1. Looks like the comments will be allowed with the right disclaimer. You are correct it would be pointless blogging, though you could make your blog private and invite selected viewers, I follow a private blog and she does ok. Thanks for your comment Susan!

  2. That’s an excellent summary of the GDPR stuff. I turned my “Like” off, stopped using Google Analytics, already made my MailChimp GDPR friendly, but I am waiting for WordPress for my policy/disclaimer/legal stuff about their products like JetPack or Akismet. Purrs

  3. One blogger I follow and who follows me lives in Istanbul…! Which side? Europe or Asia? Frankly, this may be the end of my hobby blogging. I have a fairly large number of European follows, and I enjoy their comments, look forward to their posts, and hate to think I’d have to end these contacts in the interest of privacy. More like censorship in some sense. It definitely makes the point of blogging, um, pointless.

  4. Wow that is all super complicated! I just tried reading through some of the info myself, but I think I’ll have to do it when I’m not sleepy😴so I can focus better. Maybe tomorrow…🐱🐼

  5. this is important to know so thanks for bringing it up. I have email address on comments enabled — it is a primary way of knowing if a comment is by a spammer — if they have certain medication names in their email or website url, it is spam. I want people to be able to visit other people so that if they leave their site url in comments I am fine with that. This comes from lawmakers jumping to make fast laws due to news like the Facebook thing without really understanding how it effects things in other areas. I don’t want to block likes or comments and my audience is primarily American but it seems unfair to have to block Europeans who make up the 10% of my audience because politicians make a law without understanding how the wide variety of interactions on the internet actually work. So what? tell europeans, you can read but don’t touch — no likes or comments and I will read but not touch your blog? Asking them to put little flags on their icons and blogs so we know what country they are from? I feel sorry for them. Also it should be illegal to make a law where people can attach income from people not in their country — ie taxation without representation. We should push American lawmakers to make a law that the EU cannot attach American income — especially when they make overbroad sweeping laws.

    1. It is worse than what you think. We are supposed to check the links to their blog or site to ensure there is no illegal activity on it, before we post their comment! I forgot to mention that. That is our responsibility. That would also be true of the “like” function, but I cannot individually remove them or check them before they are added. That is why Likes may have to go, in my opinion. Blogger does not have them, and Blogger blogs survive. The mega collection of data and the giant data breeches help drive this movement. Thanks for your input!

      1. Blogger blogs survive because people comment instead of liking. When I’ve participated in blogspot writing challenges, I get a lot more comments and people say to participate please comment. So blogspot will have a problem too because this effects comments.

  6. While I think it is about time that data on the internet gets more secured, all this “shut little bloggers down” is not to my liking. We will see if the lawyer mafia will sue private blogs that do not sell anything and just show ad the blogger doesn’t have any influence over!

    1. There may be some illegal blackmail. Pay me this much money and I won’t report you to the EU watch dogs! Your blog is free of links to other places and people, I notice. I have “cleaned” mine up as well. Comments so far tend to be the tricky problem. Thanks for your input, Fran.

      1. I have a lot of arcticles with links – but they are not compulsory. If you want to follow them then it is at your own decision. I am not responsible for other websites.

  7. I want to hide too. I am worried and hope I don’t have to shut off comments or there would be no point in blogging as I do it to be in touch with like minded people.

    1. I think the comment function will be changed to accommodate this. I have seen the new plugin forms for this, but I cannot add them, presently. I think removing comments is a bit extreme but we shall see.

  8. I am a nervous wreck about it. I am thinking of paying someone to help me because I don’t have a clue what I should be doing. I have one blog on WordPress and one on Blogger. I better find someone who understands it to help me.

    1. Although my mind is a bit muddled, I think Blogger (Google) also is coming out with some guidance of some sort. They suck up everyone’s information! The problems and rules become more complicated if you sell anything over the internet to a EU member. I do have advertisements put up by WordPress I have no control of, to pay for my use of their blog platform, because I am too cheap to pay to get rid of them. I have a disclaimer statement about them and I hope it is good enough. On the plus side, I think the EU will be focusing on large businesses and enterprises, and not subpoenaing Cody and Dakota! I am helping a European blogger comply so I am focusing just on hobby blogs and their rules. Thanks for your interest, Caren.

    1. I think most Americans think it does not apply to them, so they are not taking any notice. I thought that as well until I started reading about it. I plan on helping a European friend make her blog compliant. That’s when I found out the ugly truth! Humourously I think my “Europeans Go Home” sign is the easiest way around it! But not very friendly. I will speak when WP releases “something”. It will be hitting the fan soon, so we will all be hearing more about it. I did not go into what it might mean for Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites since I don’t use them. It is going to be trouble for them as well. Thanks for your comment, Christine.

  9. That is strange and troubling! There are many European bloggers I really enjoy. I sure wouldn’t want to remove their comments and ‘likes’. It’s my understanding that ‘likes’ on the posts, the ones that display the avatar pictures, can be removed by the person who ‘liked’, but not by the person whose post has been ‘liked’.

    1. Yes, you can remove your own like, but I cannot individually remove yours. I can get rid of all the likes en mass however on a post I do believe. I have seen a few plugin comment forms that require the commenter to check a box saying he agrees to the rules stated before the comment is posted. Maybe we will get this feature. Thanks for your input.

    1. It was intended for businesses and corporations and the like, but the ramifications have trickled down. Maybe they will fix it. Zeke does look a bit worried about the whole thing. He is, after all, the Editor.

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