What was that email tornado?

May 30, 2018

This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.

Wasn’t last week manic as 25th May approached and the GDPR deadline drew closer? Our personal email inboxes were inundated with hundreds of emails ranging from titles including, ‘you don’t need to do anything’ to ‘please read our new privacy laws regarding the holding of your data’.

GDPR / What was that email tornado? / Blog comment / Poppy Patmore at CountryWives online magazine for womenGDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation that came into force on 25th May 2018. This is a big update to the Data Protection Act of 1998. Apparently it is a law that Britain have promised to uphold after Brexit. So what happens if they don’t? I sort of feel they may have their hands full with so much other stuff that they won’t be able to police this one. Will companies then go back to bombarding us with emails trying to sell us stuff? As with all laws it is all open to interpretation and if you manage to wade through all the small print you probably won’t be any the wiser at the end of it all.

What I noticed was that on Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th I had no emails apart from the odd stray one that seemed to have missed the deadline or maybe they were still ploughing through the new data protection rules. But in general my inbox was empty…..woohoo I cheered! I was one of those people who just refused to answer any of those emails as there was no single method to deal with them all and so each email needed reading to ascertain what you had to do. I decided that if I needed any of these companies I would find them again. Quite good to have a cull I thought.

Then yesterday i.e. Tuesday I started to get emails again and this time from new companies, ones I had never heard of and had certainly never subscribed to including one from Neon Boots. I have never bought or showed any interest in neon boots so how do they have my email address? Plus some old companies were back emailing me even though I had not answered ‘Yes’. I guess the latter felt that even though I had not replied to them they knew me well enough to know that I would really miss them so they should keep in contact. Also now that I am only getting a few each day I would probably have more time to read them. So is it all working? I think not. Have all those companies that you have unsubscribed to, or not answered their pleas to stay in touch, destroyed all the information regarding you and your preferences, never to email you again and never to let anyone else have your email address. The cynic in me says ‘unlikely’. Could they really be bothered to delete all the information on you? I doubt it. I am therefore not sure that GDPR enforcement has worked. I don’t think companies or bloggers are being consciously illegal, I just think they don’t know what they should be doing.

GDPR / What was that email tornado? / Blog comment / Poppy Patmore at CountryWives online magazine for women

I am bemused by everyone’s outrage at companies having all of our so-called information as I feel they have had it for ages and in some ways it has been quite beneficial. Anyway I decided to have a look at my Facebook profile to see the newly disclosed data about myself that Mark Zuckerberg has recently agreed to share with each of us. As Facebook is the most notorious baddy in this area of stored data, or so the authorities say, let’s start with them. What do they know about me and more importantly my preferences? Not that I need to know what my preferences are as presumably I already know them. Though maybe my OH should have this info as he is the one who once bought me mint green bowling shoes for a present, and I don’t ever go bowling.

GDPR / What was that email tornado? / Blog comment / Poppy Patmore at CountryWives online magazine for women

However since Mark has been in the news and had to appear before the European Union, then it seemed appropriate to check out what he knows about me and how accurate it is. Maybe he knows something that could be used against me in the future. Not even my OH knows what I buy as so often I pretend I have always owned it, or that I picked it up from a charity shop. Does only Mark Zuckerberg know my innermost desires? Think of all those times I have stalked, online, Rufus Sewell. Aargh will that obsession of mine be up there stored in some cloud somewhere? Actually I now know where Rufus lives so I could stalk him in real life, but online is more fun as you can learn much more than in real life interaction. Isn’t that the way our children conduct most of their relationships?

Whatever Mark Zuckeberg doesn’t know about me then I am sure Google and Apple could fill in the gaps.

It is very easy to find out what Facebook has stored. Simply go to settings on your Facebook page and then click on ‘download a copy of your Facebook data’ and follow the instructions. I have just received my file and I am ready to share with you what Mark Zuckerberg knows about me.

  1. I have an Established Adult Life – at 59 yrs I guess that is a given.
  2. Political views – none at the moment. Well I ticked that box on my Facebook set up page so clearly they have not since worked out from my online activity which party I really support – not very impressive.
  3. Movies – Super Juice Me – surely I have a broader taste in movies that a smoothie recipe video. I mean what about all the times I have watched Rufus Sewell as smouldering Lord ‘M’ in Victoria!
  4. Books – 2 out of the 3 titles they have down for me aren’t even books.
  5. Other – so many things I swear I do not know half of the company names but nothing too incriminating unless Charlie’s Trout is an euphemism for something a little racy?
  6. Relationships – apparently with two different men but they both have the same name and luckily my OH knows both very well as they are him (no mention of Rufus – phew!)
  7. Relationship Status – apparently it is my 30th wedding anniversary this year. That’s wrong for a start.
  8. Search History – it appears I have searched for my family quite a lot. Isn’t that why Facebook was invented? For us parents to stalk our children and find out what they have got up to.
  9. Location History – he knows where I have been every day since I joined Facebook. That puts paid to any plans I had to have an illicit relationship or to stalk Rufus. 

All in all, nothing very revealing so I am not sure what we are so concerned about. I think somewhere up there in the ether they have information on all of us but really who has the time to access it and make anything interesting out of it all.

However for two brief days I did enjoy seeing an empty inbox . However, like my children, they did not realise No meant No or that my lack of response meant I was not interested in what they were saying. All is back to normal – emails flying in from obscure companies offering me lawn fertiliser, neon boots and a subscription to a Rugby magazine!! Oh well it was good whilst it lasted.

For more articles from CW’s topical news commentator, Poppy Patmore, click HERE.

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