Why GDPR Compliance is a lot like Genealogy Research

Genealogy business owner Thomas MacEntee shares his thoughts on GDPR compliance and how the process is similar to proving that your genealogy is more than just family mythology

The need to “prove” mailing list opt-ins makes GDPR compliance similar to proving that your genealogy is more than just family mythology

It is late afternoon on Thursday, May 24th and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is about to go into effect at midnight on Friday, May 25th. And while some are scrambling to even understand these regulations and their impact on genealogy, others with genealogy websites or businesses are simply ignoring the compliance recommendations. And still others are stating that this should not be a concern for non-European Union (EU) citizens and residents.

Here is why I think GDPR compliance IS important and why I’ve spent well over 20 hours over the past to weeks working towards such compliance:

Right now I would not be able to meet the audit requirements and provide documentation as to how my EU subscribers opted-in to my mailing lists. So it is just easier to run a “re-opt-in” campaign for everyone. Going forward, I will be able to “prove” that everyone on my mailing list performed an opt-in action.

It is the audit portion of GDPR that concerns me. And do I think that the EU or any enforcement agency will disregard complaints made against small businesses? No way . . . remember all the lawsuits that the Recording Industry Association of America filed against individuals who had pirated music and movie files? See RIAA Hits a Sour Note With Its File-Sharing Witch Hunt at Wired magazine to refresh your memory. RIAA purposely went after the “little guy” knowing they could not afford legal representation, would plead guilty, and would serve as an example to other copyright violators.

So better safe than sorry. And if I am going to tout that my websites and my marketing practices are GDPR compliant, then I should be able to prove it, no? While the entire discussion of GDPR evolves over the next few weeks, I’ll be confident knowing that I’ve met the requirements of the regulations. Even if it has meant a 75% reduction in the number of subscribers.

And while I wait for clarity on GDPR, I’ll have a more efficient mailing list with a higher open and click rate . . . plus I’ll be paying lower fees to my email marketing platform provider.

What is GDPR and Why Does it Matter for Genealogy and Family History?

GDPR - General Data Protection Regulation - goes into effect on May 25, 2018 . . . genealogy expert Thomas MacEntee shares his insights on how GDPR will impact the genealogy industry including businesses, societies and individuals.

Don’t forget to stay up-t0-date on the latest GDPR and Genalogy news with our article What is GDPR and Why Does it Matter for Genealogy and Family History? and the accompanying GDPR Resource List. Click HERE to access the article and resources.


Disclosure statement: I have material connections with various vendors and organizations. To review the material connections I have in the genealogy industry, please see Disclosure Statement.

©2018, copyright Thomas MacEntee.  All rights reserved.

About the Author

Thomas MacEntee
Genealogy educator and author Thomas MacEntee has been researching his family history for more than 40 years and is the creator of Abundant Genealogy, Genealogy Bargains, DNA Bargains, The Genealogy Do-Over and numerous other web-based genealogy and family history properties.