Data Defense: EU’s data protection regulation may safeguard CHS students’ privacy at expense of higher cost

Armaan Goel

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The EU recently passed legislation called the general data Privacy Regulation (GDPR), which places tighter restrictions on the data that technology companies can collect and what they can do with it. This puts more power in the user’s hands to decide what companies are allowed to have their data and how they can use it.

Although this bill directly impacts the EU, many services we use will need to adapt, meaning these changes will indirectly affect CHS. While increased data usage regulations sound like the perfect defense against silicon-valley giants meddling with our personal information, the truth isn’t so black and white. 

A common phrase in the technology industry is, “If you aren’t paying, you are the product.” This refers to the fact that many free services such as Instagram, YouTube and Gmail sell your personal data in order to make a profit. For example, if you listened to a Kanye West album, you are likely to be interested in hip-hop music, meaning you may be compelled to purchase Adidas sneakers. This is information Adidas wants to know, and they are willing to pay to do so. But if, under the GDPR, a large percentage of users chose to opt out of data collection, these companies are giving out their services with nothing in return.

This is heightened by the costs for companies to adjust to the GDPR guidelines in the first place. A survey conducted by Paul Hastings LLP estimates that the minimum cost to do business in the UK would be around $1 million.

With these large costs and lesser user data revenue to offset it, these firms will be forced to find the money from alternative means­—namely charging you—the consumer.

Still, I don’t feel currently free services will immediately shift toward a pay-to-play model, as it would seem unusual for them to do so. But I would expect companies to find other ways to make money.

One of the internet’s crowning achievements is the democratization of education. A simple Google search yields millions of videos, blog posts and exercises, to learn everything from photography to physics. In other words, the GDPR may be hindering the success of the internet as a whole.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Armaan Goel at agoelhilite.org.

About the Writer
Armaan Goel, Web Content Editor

My name is Armaan Goel and I am an Online Editor and Reporter for the HiLite Newspaper. Besides HiLite I also am President of Code For Change and Programming/Electrical...

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