The thing that attracted many of us to WordPress is that it allows you to do a lot with an extremely small budget. Where, previously, a team of developers might spend weeks or months working to enable some specific functionality, and a team of designers might spend a similar amount of time to achieve a certain look, suddenly an ordinary person, with no coding ability, could find plugins and themes that would allow them to achieve the same thing within a few hours.
WordPress is an economic multiplier. It has led, over the past decade, to an explosion of energetic new businesses, many run by just one or two people, often serving small niches that would otherwise remain unserved, which is exactly the sort of economic growth any sane country or economic block wants to see.
With just days before the General Data Protection Regulation, commonly referred to as the GDPR, comes into effect, website owners within the legal reach of the European Union are facing ruinous fines unless they can make their sites fully-compliant. The EU has always been blind to the realities of small business but the GDPR sets a new low, imposing a serious burden on entrepreneurs who can afford neither the cost nor the distraction. The GDPR is a particular hardship for those small online businesses that WordPress has made possible.
Taken in isolation, the provisions of the GDPR do introduce decent standards for protecting consumer data but, just as with the VAT MOSS rules introduced in 2015, it is clear the unelected EU officials, luxuriating in a world of high salaries, expense accounts and lavish meals with corporate lobbyists, have no awareness of just how close to the financial edge many small online businesses are.
The continual imposition of new red tape places small businesses within the EU at a serious disadvantage to their competitors located in other parts of the world. Companies in America, Asia, Australia, Russia and anywhere else outside the EU can happily keep selling to EU citizens without having to add VAT or bother about the GDPR or whatever else the well-fed geniuses in Brussels come up with next.
If you happen to run a large business, the GDPR is terrific news, you can throw anywhere between €10,000 and €50,000 to consultants, happy in the knowledge that many of your smaller competitors – the ambitious, innovative startups nipping at your heels – won’t have that option. In general, regulations, laws and even taxes are good news for corporations and big businesses because they can easily afford the lawyers, accountants, and lobbyists who will stack the odds in their favor.
I remember, three years ago, that the EU’s introduction of the VAT MOSS regulations was a massive boost for online business owners outside the EU, who were already in the happy position of not having to charge EU customers any VAT at all. VAT MOSS tipped some European online business owners towards shutting down, it was just one more headache to many. Others kept their business going but gave up on Europe and joined the growing throng in Chiang Mai and other exotic “digital nomad” destinations. The vast majority, however, did not have that option, had no choice but to grit their teeth and find a way to comply.
Now, just three years later, the vast majority of you will have no choice but to bend over again, so, we have put together a list of WordPress plugins which will make that a little less painful.
This plugin, by DB-Dzine from Lingen, Germany, close to the border with the Netherlands, is an all-in-one GDPR solution, meaning that it provides all the features you will need to comply, without requiring any additional plugins.
- Forget Me Form
- Data Breach Notifications
- Request Data Archive
- Cookie Popup
- Contact DPO
- Newsletter Unsubscribe
Further, it integrates with WooCommerce, Mailster, the WordPress Multilingual plugin (WPML), BuddyPress, Facebook Pixel, MailChimp, Cloudflare, Google Analytics, Piwik/Matomo, Google Adwords, Google Adsense, Google Tag Manager, HotJar, Contact Form 7 and Flamingo DB. Remember, when picking a GDPR solution, you need to make sure it covers not only the activities of WordPress but, also, the plugins and services your site depends upon.
This option comes from London IT consultancy Ideea who also provide GDPR consultancy, so, presumably, they know what they are doing!
All the plugins in this list do more-or-less the same things, in more-or-less the same way, so, really, it comes down to whose implementation you think is the best visual match for your site. That is why we have provided links, where possible, to their demos.
All-in-One GDPR is the most expensive plugin on this list but you can get a 20% discount if you click the Download button on this page and enter the coupon code “EARLYBIRD”.
In terms of the number of plugins and services that it integrates with, this plugin by FantasticPlugins certainly seems to live up to its claim to be the “most comprehensive All-in-One WordPress GDPR plugin”: WooCommerce, BuddyPress, MailChimp, Contact Form 7, Gravity Forms, Quform, Formidable Forms, the WordPress Multilingual Plugin (WPML), Quform, Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel, HotJar, Mailster, and AddThis.
This plugin, by Polish agency CreateIT, positions itself as the ultimate solution to all your GDPR headaches. It is integrated with WooCommerce, Contact Form 7, Gravity Forms, Mailchimp, Quforms, Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel, Events Manager, BuddyPress, Formidable Forms and, most importantly, the WordPress Multilingual Plugin (WPML).
Strangely, the sales page for this plugin by the Weblir agency of Romania provides no information on the other plugins and services it is compatible with. That is quite an oversight, not as notably “Pro” as their plugin’s name might suggest.
It does, however, list some nice graphical touches, including a GDPR badge you can position anywhere on your site and a set of GDPR-related icons that you are free to use.
This plugin existed long before the GDPR was a twinkle in the eyes of a Brussels bureaucrat, earlier versions helped beleaguered website owners to deal not only with previous EU dictates, such as the cookie laws that now force website visitors to click OK on almost every website they visit, but, also, national cookies laws in Italy, the Netherlands, the UK and Germany.
It has, therefore, been around a lot longer than the other plugins listed here, suggesting that its new GDPR features are built upon a more mature base.
It is fully compatible with WP Multisite and the WordPress Multilingual plugin (WPML).
I hope that one of the above plugins makes it somewhat easier for you to obey the new rules. If you decide, however, to say “To Hell with this bullshit, goodbye EU, I’m running away to become a digital nomad!”, be sure to pop by and say Hello to all the nice folks at a WordPress Chiang Mai meeting.