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GDPR and Privacy
By Dan Vis
May 17, 2018
Comments: 15

If you have been receiving an unusually large number of emails lately about updated privacy policies, there's a reason: GDPR. The European Union recently passed a massive new set of guidelines protecting the privacy of its citizens, and it goes into effect May 25, 2018. Online companies everywhere are scrambling to get ready.

And FAST is no exception. Our plan is to be fully compliant by the upcoming deadline and we intend to offer these same protections to every member of our community--regardless of where they live.

What is GDPR?

GDPR stands for the General Data Protection Regulation. Essentially, it guarantees four basic rights:

  1. Right of access: This means a person has the right to know what data is collected and how it will be used. They must give consent before that data is collected and they must be able to revoke that consent at any time.
  2. Right of portability: This means a person can request a record of any data collected about them, and they must be given that information in a digital form at no cost. This is partly designed to allow people to retain control of their data when they change services.
  3. Right of notification: This means data must be properly secured, and if there is a data security breach, we must notify affected individuals within 72 hours of the time we first become aware of the breach.
  4. Right to be forgotten: This goes beyond a simple unsubscribe button. It allows someone to ask a company to delete all data associated with them, and apart from certain limitations, that company must comply.

Even though these protections only apply to citizens of the European Union, and there is some question how the law would be enforced on companies that do not have offices within the European Union, we support this initiative.

The amount of data collected by large companies like Facebook and Google should be a matter of concern to all of us. The GDPR is a good step in the right direction. And in light of recent scandals in the USA, it's possible similar laws will be coming here in the near future. Regardless, we feel an ethical obligation to give our community members the highest possible protections.

It's not a perfect law: some aspects are vague or unclear, implementation will be burdensome, perhaps even impractical, and there is a lot of confusion about how it will all work. But I personally believe every person should have access to these basic rights. No doubt the details will get ironed out in time.

How Will This Affect FAST?

We've always tried to follow best practices in our ministry, so the changes we will need to make should be minimal. Rather than viewing it as an inconvenience, it's a great opportunity to audit our entire framework and make sure everything is working optimally. We've been researching this for some time and are pursuing compliance diligently.

Here's a list of some of the things we are doing:

  1. Our privacy policy has been rewritten to be more clear and transparent about what data we collect and how it is used. It is now a separate document rather than a section within our terms of use.
  2. More detailed explanations about data usage will begin appearing on all our optin forms. This will give you a clearer picture of what information we collect, and why. And we will be documenting your consent more carefully.
  3. We are currently working on a system to automate members ability to request a data summary report and edit or delete that data. Currently, we can only provide these services by collecting this information manually.
  4. While we don't collect large amounts of information, we will be reviewing log files and deleting all unnecessary data.
  5. Members on our mailing list who have not responded to emails for a period of time will be sent a series of special emails asking them if they wish to continue receiving our emails, and if there is no response, they will be unsubscribed.
  6. Similarly, we will reach out to members who have been inactive for a period of time at FAST, and give them an opportunity to reconnect. And where this does not happen, those accounts will be deactivated. In the future this process will be automated.
  7. Last, we will ask all returning members to give a one-time consent to our updated privacy policy before being able to continue on to our site.

All of these efforts combined should make our community stronger, keep our members more informed, and help to ensure our site runs more smoothly. It will be a good bit of work, but we're happy to make these improvements!

If you would like to review our terms of use and/or privacy policy, please take a moment to do so. At FAST, we're committed to providing the best member experience possible to make your time here safe, secure, and spiritually uplifting.

Feel free to ask questions in the comments below.

Comments

How important is data protection to you? What do you think of the new GDPR regulations? What do you think of our efforts at FAST to extend these to all our members, worldwide?

Posted by Dan Vis on 12/31/18
Glad you have signed up for Rocket Joan! I've been working super hard to make it better than ever--and I'm quite excited. Hopefully we'll see you in more classes in the days to come!
Posted by Joan Robinson on 12/31/18

Thank you Dan for your reply and gentle reminder about GDPR.

As a Bible scholar, an elder in the church and community involvement I have not been unable to keep up with FAST. My plan for the new year is to continue with FAST memorisation and join up to the current Rocket class.
My very best wishes for 2019.
Joan

Posted by Dan Vis on 06/30/18

You are absolutely right Joan, and we will definitely do our best to contact each person before deleting/archiving any accounts. Fortunately it's easy enough to recreate an account if one wishes. It just takes a couple clicks and everything is back, good as new! :)

Thanks so much for your faithful prayers. It means so much to us...

Posted by Joan Robinson on 06/28/18

Hi Dan and the FAST team, thank you for your persistence and commitment to keep your members and partners up-to-date with regulations for protecting a person privacy and informed of legal requirement of using technology.
To withdraw an inactive account is a good idea. However there may be many reason for this inactive account i.e. device access; time limit and no physical device to continue the course/training, so persevere to ensure the interest of an individual. Personal challenges, ill-health or academic studies and career pressures could create in activities. I would pray that we will not give due diligence to everyone the opportunity to respond to withdraw or continue membership or partnership with FAST.

Thank you for ensuring the GDPR is brought to our attention for us to practice and comply its regulations and contents.
Your team are doing a grand job with weekly FAST memo.
You and your staff are in my daily prayers.
Many blessings
Joan Robinson

Posted by Dan Vis on 06/01/18
Thanks for the comment Elizabeth! As students of Bible prophecy, I think we should be extra careful about how information about us is managed. So anything we can do to set an example at FAST is a priority. Our pleasure to serve!
Posted by Elizabeth on 05/29/18
This seems a very good idea, however as you say some of it may be impractical. If it looks like I’m not responding to emails it is because I’m having trouble with my solar system and I’m without power some days. In this time it is so easy to search for information about people. And of course as time gets shorter this will be able to be used against us, however in the interim this gives us a safety barrier and will allow us to get on with our learning. Thanks for being so willing to put this into to practice for us on your site.
Posted by Dan Vis on 05/27/18
You are privileged Zewdi to live in a country where these protections are guaranteed. We want to extend them through our site at least, to the world. :)
Posted by Zewdi Isaac Enbom on 05/25/18
I am very happy for this regulations. Normally curious people just google and find a lot of information about you without you knowing even of its existance. Thank you for your quick action on this matter as well as extending to all members.
Posted by Dan Vis on 05/23/18
Two votes for birthday cards. :)
Posted by Cristina Bastos on 05/22/18
It also happened with me, Marion! Thanks Pr. Dan!
Posted by Dan Vis on 05/21/18
Appreciate the feedback Marion, Cristina. I've always been reluctant to delete old accounts but it's necessary sometimes with the way spam laws are tightening. Maybe I can keep some people on a special birthday list! :) And never fear, someone will have to be inactive for awhile to be deleted (6 months or a year, probably) and they will always be able to reactivate their account easily. :)
Posted by Marion Coppock on 05/21/18
I think it is a good idea to occasionally reach out to inactive FAST members (birthdays) etc. I was one of those who was inactive for many years, but every year Dan always sent a birthday message. His faithfulness drew me back. Now I am actively memorizing again.
Thanks Dan.
Posted by Cristina Bastos on 05/21/18
I think it is nice FAST is trying to comply to GDPR and apply it to everybody. Personally, I think that to disconnect inactive people can be good in a way, but also a trouble for someone that is having difficulties to connect because of vacations, problems with computer or internet, etc. Just my opinion.
Posted by Dan Vis on 05/19/18
We definitely live in difficult times, Qing. With all the power for good technology poses, it also can be used for evil. Will continue to do our best to follow the very highest standards we can!
Posted by Qing Ling on 05/19/18
Spring cleaning time. I love it.
Data protection is very important, especially in a time where data mining with even seemingly harmless social information can be used to "profile" a person. Thanks for the transparency FAST!

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