The Effect of the GDPR on Privacy Policies- Recent Progress and Future PromiseAuthor(s): Razieh Nokhbeh Zaeem, K. Suzanne Barber
Published on May 14, 2020
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is considered by some to be the most important change in data privacy regulation in 20 years. Effective May 2018, the European Union GDPR privacy law applies to any organization that collects and processes the personal information of EU citizens within or outside the EU. In this work, we seek to quantify the progress the GDPR has made in improving privacy policies around the globe. We leverage our data mining tool, PrivacyCheck, to automatically compare three corpora (totaling 550) of privacy policies, pre- and post-GDPR. In addition, to evaluate the current level of compliance with the GDPR around the globe, we manually studied the policies within two corpora (450 policies). We find that the GDPR has made progress in protecting user data, but more progress is necessary—particularly in the area of giving users the right to edit and delete their information—to entirely fulfill the GDPR’s promise. We also observe that the GDPR encourages sharing user data with law enforcement, and, as a result, many policies have facilitated such sharing after the GDPR. Finally, we see that, when there is non-compliance with the GDPR, it is often in the form of failing to explicitly indicate compliance, showing an organization’s lack of transparency and disclosure regarding their processing and protection of personal information. If Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is the “currency of the Internet”, these findings mark continued alarm regarding an individual’s agency to protect and secure their PII assets.