In the long, obtuse history of Things That Became Memes, there are some obvious ones—Nyan Cat, say, or maybe Doge—and some less obvious ones. (Did anyone see “covfefe” coming?) Today’s entry falls squarely in the latter category. In the last few days, as the European Union has been ramping up to roll out the European General Data Protection Regulation—referred to affectionately by the acronym GDPR—folks online have been both reeling and ready. Reeling from the scads of messages they’ve been receiving about changes to how companies that operate in the EU handle their data, and ready with snarky reactions to the rollout.
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The long and short of it is that GDPR, which officially goes into effect today, establishes a new set of laws dictating how companies in the EU collect and use data and handle consumer privacy. It also gives those consumers greater control over their data on the internet. That’s good! Privacy is a big deal! However, as companies make moves to comply with the new standards, they also have to inform their users about them, which has led to users getting some version of the same message over and over. (It’s also led to some surprising outages, like readers in Europe realizing they can no longer see news sites like The Los Angeles Times and the New York Daily News.)
The internet being the internet, most folks responded to those messages and outages with humor and/or outsized outrage. It is, obviously, only fitting that this would happen. For a place that evolves rapidly, the internet seems to love the status quo, and any changes to it do not go unnoticed. And honestly, considering the often horrific firehose of information and dialogue that often spews out of the internet, a little ribbing at the expense of the EU and their robust and thoughtful data privacy policies seems almost quaint.
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