Here's why you're getting so many emails about changing privacy policies

  • A big new European privacy regulation called GDPR takes effect on Friday.
  • Because the internet crosses borders, many of the regulation’s protections apply to people around the world, including Americans.
  • GDPR says internet companies need to ask their customers for permission to use their data in a clear and understandable way.
  • That is why you’re getting so many emails about privacy policy changes lately.

If you’ve been using the internet for a while, you’ve probably been deluged in recent days with a wave of emails telling you about privacy policies.

Some of these emails are from big companies like Uber or Nest. But others are from newsletters you probably don’t remember signing up for.

The emails say they’re related to GDPR, but what does that mean, and why are you getting so many of them this week?

GDPR is a big new piece of European regulation that stands for General Data Protection Regulation.

It outlines clear rules about how European Union citizens’ data can be used by internet companies. Though it was passed in April 2016, it’s only coming into effect now.

The key to the regulation is that companies need to ask customers for their data in a clear and understandable way. It also gives users some additional rights, such as the right to not give all their information to a service but still be allowed to use it.

That means many of the websites, newsletters, and apps you’ve signed up for have to ask clearly for your permission to continue to operate and are now asking for consent to keep your account alive. Other companies are just telling you about their new privacy policy.

Though GDPR is designed to protect EU citizens, the nature of doing business online means many of the protections are being extended to people around the world, including Americans. If a company has European Union data, it needs to play by EU rules.

And if all the emails you’re getting about GDPR changes are annoying, it’s a great chance to delete your account for online services or newsletters you no longer want.

If you have more questions about GDPR and what it means for you, this post explains it all.

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