Tech sector struggles with GDPR

A recent study published in the Financial Times highlights how the tech sector struggles with GDPR. The FT interviewed 20 of the global tech giants, and some of the findings are revealing about what is happening within the world’s leading technology companies as they prepare for the May 2018 GDPR deadline.

Facebook indicated that it would be investing several million dollars to become compliant with the new regulation before the May 2018 deadline being imposed by the EU authorities. Facebook also revealed that they had assembled one of the largest cross functional teams in the history of the company to tackle the problem. The Facebook GDPR team, which is located in Ireland, is set to grow by over 250% in numbers in 2017. Other tech giants have revealed that they are also scrambling to hire extra staff and specialist consultants and to assemble diverse teams to become GDPR ready.

Although the costs of several millions of dollars may be insignificant when compared to the overall revenues of some of these tech giants, the tech groups suggest that GDPR is without a doubt one of the most expensive pieces of regulation in the emerging tech industries history.

Size of the market

According to IDC and OpenEvidence, the size of the EU market for monetized data amounted to 70$ billion in 2016 as technology companies increasingly look to customer data to launch and enhance new services and generate advertising revenues. The issue is that GDPR will have a dramatic effect on how data is to be collected, stored and deleted on behalf of EU consumers. The new rules will require technology companies to ask for explicit consent to use personal data which will be challenging for some service providers who have long and complicated privacy policies.

Board level approval

One indicator of readiness that is recognised by the GDPR regulators is when a member of the board of the tech company has been appointed to oversee the implementation of the GDPR transition. Only 6 of the 20 companies contacted by the FT, namely Facebook, Microsoft, TransferWise, Funding Circle, HPE and Cisco confirmed that a board member of their business had been appointed to carry out such a task. It appears that the majority of global technology companies need to take a closer look at how they are preparing themselves for the GDPR 2018 deadline.