The General Data Protection Regulation comes into force today, if you weren't aware…

But of course you are. Like me, you probably had 15 emails pile into your work email inbox last night imploring you to opt-in and "remain friends forever".

We have become accustomed to living with data: we filter and use it constantly, both at work and at play. Any business worth its salt uses it to analyse performance and grow.

Now everything seems to have been thrown into doubt. Companies everywhere are questioning how they interact with customers, how they run their marketing and PR campaigns, how they store their data.

As the GDPR bombshell drops from the sky, tech firms are taking what The Guardian dubbed "the nuclear approach".


Pinterest, for example, has temporarily blocked EU residents from using its news-clipping service Instapaper as it "underestimated the scope of work and it was not possible to complete by the deadline". They only had two years…

Movie and TV review app Stardust has gone further, removing its product from the EU versions of Google Play and Apple's App Store and deleting all EU residents' records, while San Francisco-based dashcam app Payver has pulled out of the EU altogether.

It's as if the late, great Douglas Adams (author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy),  had written the GDPR regulation and put DON’T PANIC on the cover. (For those of you settling into your day and yet to drink that first coffee, the use of the word 'panic' inherently causes people to do just that).

Well-run companies of any size should already be using data appropriately; it should be collected for a specific purpose and used for that purpose.  

→ BusinessCloud is organising an interactive event 'How to deal with a GDPR breach' which will include a workshop investigation into a serious data breach at a fictitious company. The breakfast event will also hear from a stellar line-up of panel speakers. Click here to book your place now.

However, GDPR should make us all more wary of how we do things. Imagine if you sent an email out to an extensive list of contacts and put the address in the CC field instead of BCC… it’s easily done. How many of us have forwarded an email to a friend without checking the stuff further down the email?

The world hasn't ended today. All the indications are that the authorities want to work with companies to protect the private data of citizens rather than go around hammering them with huge fines on day one.

But how many of us will take the time and trouble to actually read the new privacy terms and conditions that popped up on our screen when we turned on our Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media this morning?

No, me neither... maybe it's time to change that.