EU Rule Could Impact Your Business

April 23, 2018

Does the European Union have any regulatory authority over your real estate business? It’s a tricky question, but the answer is “maybe.” An EU rule called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which takes effect next month, will block your website from dropping cookies on the computers of European citizens who visit your site unless you first get consent. That means your terms of use might not be enough, and you may need a pop-up that asks for the visitor’s permission to drop a cookie. What’s more, if you process data on a European client, you must be prepared to delete that data if requested. That means you must have a method for identifying such data so you can take action.

The question of how the EU would enforce this rule remains unanswered, and litigation is likely. So, it’s possible it will be a while before anything actually happens that affects U.S. businesses. But there are other things to keep in mind:

  • The United States might align its rules with the EU.
  • Many U.S. businesses might align their online privacy and security practices with the EU model, regardless of enforcement. That means you’ll probably see more U.S. companies asking for affirmative consent when anyone comes to their websites.
  • There could be alignment with European rules on data processing, too.

Currently, this is all speculation. The rule is real, but its actual impact in the U.S. can’t be fully known yet. But you can see where things are heading, and it’s not a bad idea to take steps to be prepared for however things shake out.

The National Association of REALTORS® will be hosting a Facebook Live webcast Tuesday at 1 p.m. CT to walk you through what’s happening and what you might need to do to be ready. The presenters will be Finley Maxson, NAR senior counsel, and Liz Sturrock, NAR vice president of information technology. They’ll be talking with Meg White, managing editor of REALTOR® Magazine.

—Robert Freedman, REALTOR® Magazine