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September 10, 2019

How Internet Censorship Affects Online Businesses

In 2018, the European Union’s new directive on data protection, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect, triggering several ramifications for online businesses across the globe.

For instance, before a business can track a user online, the user must be made aware of the privacy provided for their data, as well as, the purpose and period the data will remain in use.

Website visitors can then choose to accept the terms or decline and exit the online platform.

Online businesses can only use specified data collected for a specific purpose over a limited period after which they must delete the data collected. It makes it a little challenging for some businesses that can use various data for multiple purposes for an extended time.

However, on the flip side, it also means that businesses can target specific customers for specific offers with the data they collect, which makes conversion rates higher. In other words, if a user opts to provide their data for tracking, they hold some interest in the product being offered, and this enhances the chances of purchasing the product.

Nonetheless, businesses will still face some bottlenecks because digital regulations do not start and end with the GDPR requirements. Several governments have their own set of rules that have been in force for several years. Internet censorship is one of the most common practices in various countries in the EU, the Americas, and Asia, led by China.

In the EU, internet censorship has been successfully used to control digital content with countries like Turkey censoring the internet by throttling the bandwidth during times of unrest to limit reactions on social media and online publications. To bypass such actions by the government, people use virtual private networks (VPNs) and servers (VPSs) to browse the internet as if they were from another country.

It can make things difficult for businesses that use targeted advertising. A UK-based business can track users from Turkey using a UK-based VPNs and VPSs as if they were residents in the UK. It can lead to inaccuracies in business analysis, leading to under or overstated budget allocations for the marketing team.

Some of the best VPN services offer several servers to their customers to choose from different regions. They can change from one server to the next as they wish and this complicates tracking even more. As such, businesses are forced to invest in more expensive systems that can overcome this challenge by using more sophisticated tracking algorithms.

Internet censorship is a real problem for internet businesses, and the best example, in this case, is Google. Companies cannot utilize the sophisticated online advertising benefits that search engine giant provides through its extended portfolio of products. These products include search, AdWords, YouTube, and Maps, among others.

In summary, with serious questions arising following Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica debacle, internet users could witness more data protection policies coming into force in the coming years as various governments tighten up user privacy regulations. It will continue to have a significant impact on online businesses because user data is critical to their success.

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