Remember Instapaper? The Pinterest-owned, read-it-later bookmarking service is taking a break in Europe — apparently while it works on achieving compliance with the region’s updated privacy framework, GDPR, which will start being applied from tomorrow.
Instapaper’s notification does not say how long the self-imposed outage will last.
The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation updates the bloc’s privacy framework, most notably by bringing in supersized fines for data violations, which in the most serious cases can scale up to 4% of a company’s global annual turnover.
So it significantly ramps up the risk of, for example, having sloppy security, or consent flows that aren’t clear and specific enough (if indeed consent is the legal basis you’re relying on for processing people’s personal information).
That said, EU regulators are clearly going to tread softly on the enforcement front in the short term. And any major fines are only going to hit the most serious violations and violators — and only down the line when data protection authorities have received complaints and conducted thorough investigations.
So it’s not clear exactly why Instapaper believes it needs to pause its service to European users. It’s also had plenty of time to prepare to be compliant — given the new framework was agreed at the back end of 2015. We’ve reached out to Pinterest with questions and will update this story with any response.
In a customer support email that we reviewed, the company also told one European user: “We’ve been advised to undergo an assessment of the Instapaper service to determine what, if any, changes may be appropriate but to restrict access to IP addresses in the EU as the best course of action.”
“We’re really sorry for any inconvenience, and we are actively working on bringing the service back online for residents in Europe,” it added.
Instapaper also already lets users delete their accounts. And if they do that it specifies that “all account information and saved page data is deleted from the Instapaper service immediately” (though it also cautions that “deleted data may persist in backups and logs until they are deleted”).
But it’s also not explicitly clear from the policy whether or not it’s passing information to its parent company Pinterest, for example, so perhaps it feels it needs to add more detail there.
Another possibility is Instapaper is working on compliance with GDPR’s data portability requirement. Though the service has offered exports options for years. But perhaps it feels these need to be more comprehensive.
As is inevitable ahead of a major regulatory change there’s a good deal of confusion about what exactly must be done to comply with the new rules. And that’s perhaps the best explanation for what’s going on with Instapaper’s pause.
Though, again, there’s plenty of official and detailed guidance from data protection agencies to help.
Unfortunately it’s also true that there’s a lot of unofficial and dubious quality advice from a cottage industry of self-styled ‘GDPR consultants’ that have sprung up with the intention of profiting off of the uncertainty. So — as ever — do your due diligence when it comes to the ‘experts’ you choose.
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