Posted on May 9, 2018 by staff

GDPR? Data protection is a state of mind


If you’ve spent your time focused purely on GDPR compliance, have you missed a larger business opportunity?

Purple’s Gavin Wheeldon has urged businesses to stop talking about GDPR and instead focus on privacy and data protection.

The CEO began investing his time into understanding data protection four years ago, whilst GDPR was still in the planning stage.

“I knew it would inevitably come, so I kept track of the rumour mill as it grew over the years,” he told BusinessCloud.

The business creates a free Wi-Fi service for other businesses. The likes of restaurants, shopping centres and hotels use Purple to provide free Wi-Fi to their guests and gather analytics in order to display custom messages to them – hence personal data collection is a vital part of Purple’s business model.

Wheeldon is speaking at our breakfast event on the topic next week – ‘The golden rules of GDPR’ – where speakers will offer practical examples of how to make the most of the new opportunities, from cleansing databases to building trust.

“GDPR is sensible and consumers are becoming savvier about their data and what people are doing with it,” he explained.

“If customers don’t log on to the Wi-Fi, we can’t do the analytics and we can’t provide value to our end customers. But we want to make sure that consumers feel that it’s done in the right way.

“Come the 24th of May there are going to be ‘digital bonfires’ of uncompliant data everywhere.”

GDPR kicks in the following day, with fines for non-compliance potentially reaching €20m or four per cent of worldwide annual turnover.

Half of Purple’s customers are based in the United States, where data protection rules and attached fines are less strict.

“We could do it differently in the US if we wanted to, but we don’t want to. In the US at some point there will be a GDPR equivalent and we’ll be ahead of the curve,” said Wheeldon.

His team at Purple have built a ‘profile portal’ which allows users of the free Wi-Fi service to log in and see all the data that the company has collected about them, with the ability to delete it.

“We’ve gone above and beyond the GDPR requirement,” he explained.

“Users can log in and see absolutely everything that we hold including social interests and whatever else we’ve collected.

“They have control over all of the data, who you’ll allow to have it and who you won’t. It’s all online, rather than having to write in.”

Ahead of the GDPR deadline, he added: “We’re itching to get going. I’m sick of hearing about GDPR – let’s just get on with it!”