[Issue 059] What's up with all the privacy policy update emails? 🤔


If you're reading this then you've probably received no less than a dozen terms of service and privacy policy update emails over the last two weeks.

And you probably have questions.


Like... Why is everyone updating them?

Why now? 

And most importantly: How much longer will my inbox have to suffer? 

Well, I'm here to break it down for you.

What you need to know to sound smart:

  • You are receiving all of these emails because the updates are a requirement under a new data protection law (known as GDPR) that goes into effect in Europe on May 25th.
  • GDPR, or the General Data Protection Regulation, regulates how companies use and protect E.U. citizens’ personal data.
  • This means that the GDPR will be affecting most businesses with an internet presence and global companies like Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc.

Still with me?

Why is this important?

The law has five key requirements (simplified here):

  1. Requires consent to process data
  2. Must anonymize collected data to protect privacy
  3. Must provide notifications for data breaches
  4. Safe handling of data transfer across borders 
  5. For certain companies: Appointment of a data protection officerto handle GDPR compliance.

In the wake of data scandals, like Cambridge Analytica’s access to 50 million Facebook users’ private data, consumers are increasingly becoming aware that their personal data is collected by many companies and could be misused.

While the regulation was agreed upon in April 2016, the topic is still highly, if not more, relevant today.

The GDPR gives certain rights to citizens of the E.U., like the “right to portability”, which is the right to transfer their personal data between service providers, or the “right to erasure”, which is the right to erase their personal data under certain circumstances, as well as companies needing consent to handle citizens' data.

So, what are companies doing about it? 

Given these new requirements, companies are updating terms and policies to be in compliance before May 25th (hence all the emails). Noncompliance could cost companies up to 4% of their annual revenue or €20 million, whichever is higher.


Clearly, major tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon and other major companies are going to be in the forefront. 

Many companies are prepared. IBM, as it deals with a lot of citizen data, is implementing major data protection regulations internally. Yodel, which is a delivery service in the UK, has been training staff to know the best way to handle consumer data.

On the other hand, many companies are still lagging. A recent report showed that most financial firms are unprepared, and another report shows that about 60% of companies affected by the GDPR are likely to miss the compliance deadline.


I don't know about you, but I'll definitely be paying close attention to U.S. companies that have had major data breaches in the past, like Yahoo, Equifax, Adobe, Target, Facebook, and JP Morgan Chase (all among the 17 biggest data breaches of the 21st century).

And I imagine the E.U. is too... 🧐



Some Mother's Day inclusion joy for you...

James Loduca is the Director of Equality Programs at Salesforce and a new dad with his husband Charlie Smith. He recently tweeted:

H/T to a  recent RaceAhead  newsletter for this gem! 

H/T to a recent RaceAhead newsletter for this gem! 



Amazon Employees Are Outraged By Their Company’s Opposition To A Plan To Add More Diversity To Its Board. Last week, after Amazon opposed a shareholder proposal that would require its board to formally consider more diverse candidates when selecting board members, employees started an internal thread expressing their opposition to the decision and requesting more transparency.  // RECODE

 A worthwhile response piece (h/t to ABL reader, Katrina!): What Amazon’s Board Is Getting Wrong About Diversity and Hiring // HBR
 And a positive update since this email was drafted (employee activism, ftw!): Amazon will adopt a ‘Rooney Rule’ to increase board diversity after its initial opposition sparked employee outrage // RECODE

Primark Promotes Global Supply Chain Transparency With Online Map. The UK based budget clothing retailer has released details of its supply chain, providing an online map that shows all of the countries and factories they work with in an effort to provide evidence that they do not use any slave labor. // TRIPLE PUNDIT

Bank Of America Appears To Flip on Firearm Promise With Loan To Remington. The bank recently promised to stop lending money to military-style firearm companies that sell to civilians. However, right before making that promise the bank committed to provide Remington, a maker of military-style firearms that has recently filed for bankruptcy, with a $200 million lending package (along with other banks). // HUFF POST 

Silicon Valley Faces Regulatory Fight on Its Home Turf. Google, Facebook, Verizon, Comcast and AT&T each made $200,000 contributions to a committee opposing a proposed ballot measure in California that would provide consumers with increased data privacy rights—though Facebook and Verizon have since pulled out of the coalition. // NYTIMES

AT&T Chief Says It Made a ‘Big Mistake’ Hiring Michael Cohen. “There is no other way to say it — AT&T hiring Michael Cohen as a political consultant was a big mistake," he said in a letter to employees about paying $600,000 for advice on federal policy and the Time Warner merger. // NYTIMES

5 More Nike Executives Are Out Amid Inquiry Into Harassment Allegations. Five more top ranking executives have left Nike, raising the number of senior managers who have left the company following widespread allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination to 11. Last week, Mark Parker, Nike’s CEO apologized to employees and said that the investigation and departures related to the company’s investigation would be completed by this week. // NYTIMES

These Lovely Ads Go Beyond Cliche and Show the Breadth of What It Means to Be a Mother. Teleflora, a flower delivery service, created a series of ads for Mother's Day that included a black lesbian couple raising their daughter together, an army veteran raising her school age half sister, and a mother raising her daughter with special needs. Grab a tissue and enjoy. // ADWEEK

“We don’t need more effort, we need COURAGE.”

— Amazon Employee, in response to the board's initial opposition to a shareholder proposal that would require the board to formally consider women and minority candidates when selecting new board members

Nikita T. Mitchell