“Dark data” is your biggest business liability. And you have tons of it.

Dark Data. Sounds cool doesn’t it? So mysterious. So dark. So… dangerous to the long term success of your online business.

Dark Data is something most companies don’t know they even have. A quick Google search gives us the best summary…

Dark data is data which is acquired through various computer network operations but not used in any manner to derive insights or for decision making.

Do you remember when you ran that list building campaign two summers ago, but never used that contact list for anything? Dark Data. What about that old form you had on your website before your redesign that had customers upload a PDF application for you to print? Dark Data. The database in your hosting account that was just used once or twice, but you never got around to deleting it? Yeah? Dark Data. Sent a CSV to a coworker? Shared a mailing list with your contract? You get the picture.

Although a lot of this is bad practice, it used to not really be a huge issue. But that all changed just recently.

Welcome to GDPR!

Let me preface this section by saying, if you don’t know what this is, then you have bigger issues than just your Dark Data. The GDPR laws were a set of privacy laws passed by the European Union. They set a guiding standard for anyone handling any data that belongs to an EU citizen.

Prior to the GDPR, Dark Data would have been seen as just an artifact of doing business. Leftovers, basically. Now however, the GDPR requires businesses to gain a detailed understanding of how personally identifying data flows across their business, in addition to strict rules governing how that data can be used. So to put it plainly, businesses that have Dark Data are very possibly in violation of GDPR compliance laws.

Shit. So what now?

I like to think of this as an opportunity to clean house. You don’t necessarily need to delete that data. Hell, you may not even have any. But what you should do is understand it. Understand what data you are keeping in your databases. Understand how data flows through your business. Understand the GDPR laws.

Shining a light on your Dark Data, and understanding your responsibility as a business owner when it comes to privacy is a huge step in managing a modern  business. Do your due diligence. Talk to a GDPR professional who can give you any legal advice you need… and then turn on the basement light, and get your house in order.

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