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What GDPR Non-Compliance Could Mean for Your Business

Updated: May 8, 2023

What is GDPR? It’s the General Data Privacy Rights. It protects European consumers from personal data exploitation. That means users of a website or anyone using personally identifying information can see where it’s being used, and by whom. As a business owner, you probably already know this. Even if your business is based in another country, you may have site visitors or consumers from the EU.

Recently, companies like Twitter, Discord, and more have come under fire for not following the laws set forth by the GDPR – and they’re facing severe consequences. One of those consequences is largely in part due to cookie consent.

What is cookie consent?

Website cookies are a great way for businesses to track customers, learn more about them and tailor ads and services based on their preferences. Even websites like WordPress. However, just like a chocolate chip cookie tastes delicious while we’re eating it, we may regret the consequences later.

Many business owners don’t know that their customers’ cookies are being used by third parties and then re-sold. This creates an infinite data chain that personally identifies end user information – and there hasn’t been any control over it. The GDPR aims to correct that. It gives consumers control over why, where, and how their information is being handled. It also initiates accountability for business owners.

In a nutshell, GDPR cookie consent means that your end users can see where their cookies are going, tell you yes or no, and then use your services - or not - based on those preferences.

What if I lose customers because they don’t consent to the cookies?

This is a scary thought. But it doesn’t have to be! Just like your business must adapt and comply with other laws, this one is navigable. Although, you may need a little help. A cookie consent banner is a great start toward complying with the GDPR. Not only can it give you insight and transparency into how cookies are managed and used, but it also gives your customers options. Over time, that gains trust. It can also save your business up to millions of dollars in fines.

If you can see that your customers aren’t happy with the way their cookies are being used, you can adjust them accordingly. If your customers see that you’re making changes and taking their word to heart, they’ll be more loyal. In the end, it’s a win-win for everyone.

Cookie banners are obnoxious! What can I do?

Truth be told, most cookie banners are obnoxious. They can prevent site visitors from seeing or accessing content quickly. However, they don’t have to be. The right cookie banner can be customized to your site, giving your visitors the best experience – and educating them on how to prevent further disruptions.

A good cookie banner helps manage and store preferences. That way, your end users only have to click it once, make their adjustments and move on! It also protects your business from scrutiny later. Those preferences can be stored and archived in the event of an audit or investigation. It only takes a few clicks to access the information you and your customers need to prove that you’re in GDPR cookie compliance.

Nope. I don’t like cookie banners. I’ll take my chances. What’s the worst that could happen?

Pretty risky! Not complying with GDPR cookie consent might not land you in hot water right away, but it definitely will in the future. Let’s look at a few major companies that have avoided cookie consent – and the consequences they’ve faced.

  • Amazon - $877m Could have avoided this fine with a better cookie consent banner that laid out preferences, management and storage. Instead, they left customers to figure that out on their own – while shopping for goods and giving their information out to third parties without their knowledge.

  • WhatsApp - $255m The privacy policy on the cookie consent banner was inaccessible or unreadable to many users, rendering it useless.

  • Google - $90m Cookies weren’t identifiable as being declined or accepted. This resulted in confusion on the end user part. They didn’t know how to manage their cookies. This meant the cookie banner wasn’t useful to the business or the consumer.

  • Marriot – 20.45m Ignored a penalty notice after an acquisition, resulting in a fine that could have been avoided with an adequate cookie banner, consent and preference management, and storage of those details.

  • Facebook - $68m Had no option to decline cookies or manage preferences on the cookie consent banner. The only option was to consent. Users could either use the service and sell their data, or not. Without any further information, many users opted in without knowing they could opt out.

  • Discord - $830k There was no data retention policy for cookies gathered and used. Therefore, when an audit was conducted, no records could be found. Oops!

  • Twitter - $550k Used personal cookie data to sell to customers under the guise of security. This was a big one. Not only did they collect personal data and mine it out to other companies, but Twitter also intentionally deceived users into thinking it was only for security purposes.

Your business might not incur fines into the hundreds of millions, but the damages will still be there. Then, think of what it might do to your reputation or loss of revenue? How much will you need to spend on lawyers, PR, and marketing to repair the damages? Non-compliance is not worth it.

What’s the solution for GDPR?

An automated platform that gains consent and preference management, along with cookie data, can keep your business safe. This protects your customers and business from third-party cookies while still giving you insights into specific wants and needs. There are many options out there, including Onetrust cookie consent, and more.

Check out the Adzapier Cookie Scan tool to see where and with whom information is being shared. Then, connect with one of our professionals for a quick meeting that can get your business compliant in about 30 minutes! We guarantee: our solution costs far less than an audit.

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