Do you lie enough? You probably need to lie more often!
When filling out online forms that is.

Since the GDPR, the EU data protection rules, came into effect last year, many companies struggled with getting their online forms compliant. Some don’t really try, others think they’ve done it well but really haven’t, and a tiny minority actually really adapted their order flows and forms to adjust for the GDPR. (Although GDPR mostly aren’t new rules, btw, it’s just that non-compliance costs a lot more).

Since not all forms are fully compliant, I routinely fill in false information. If they don’t limit their data collection, I will take the responsibility on myself to create as much noise in their data as is prudent.

Yesterday I ordered something from an on-line retailer. The form that asked for where to send my order didn’t indicate which fields were mandatory, but clearly contained fields that weren’t GDPR compliant if they were.

I filled out only the things needed to complete the transaction, which is the delivery address, and an e-mail address or phone number to keep me informed of the process. They also asked for my birthday (we’ll send you a birthday greeting!), which at least wasn’t mandatory, and shouldn’t really be asked for such a frivolous reason.

Turns out the name (first and last name fields) of the addressee was mandatory. Not entirely unexpected, to ensure the right person at the address provided receives the package. This was after payment, and meant for the fulfilment partner. So they don’t really need a mandatory field for first name, nor a proper last name, as long as the receiver knows for who a package is.

I opted for the initials A.V.G. (the Dutch abbreviation for GDPR). And a last name that was incorrectly spelled. Previously I filled out a mandatory department name in my company as ‘Read the GDPR this form sucks‘.

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We probably all need to lie way more when filling out forms. Here’s the recipe.

For each field in a form

  • If it is not mandatory don’t fill it out. They are trying to get more data about you voluntarily. Unless you perceive a clear need for yourself (e.g. you want them to SMS you when the delivery van is 30 minutes away)
  • If it is mandatory, ask yourself how needed it truly is
    • if it concerns contractual aspects, your real name etc is needed. So you can rely on it later concerning warranty, tax purposes etc.
    • if there is no perceivable need, then lie, obfuscate or provide info that when read by a human is a reminder they should change their forms. “read the GDPR”… etc.

Exactly 15 years ago today I blogged the participant list of the London Blogwalk that would take place the next day. I started clicking through the URLs to see who’s still using theirs. Some have disappeared, some are still live though inactive, some still active. A few I still am in regular touch with, but two Julian Elvé and Ian Glendinning are still active but weren’t in my feedreader again yet. So I’ve added them. A pleasant surprise that Julian is using IndieAuth and Webmention on his site, and therefore is an active part of the Indieweb.

Chris Grey’s Brexit blog is a very worthwile read, bringing up the energy to weekly take a detailed look at what is happening in the UK regarding Brexit. Where many others run screaming frustratedly, or deludedly shout ‘get it over with’ as if there’s a simple Gordian knot style solution to solving the complexity of Brexit, especially as it has become based on mutually exclusive notions, as per the quote. Getting it over with simply means you return to the exact same issues the next day, after having needlessly created a gaping hole in your legal framework as well as economy which do nothing but undermine your ability to solve those issues, merely having taken them from ‘important to solve’ to ‘extremely urgent to solve’.

Read Revolution and counter-revolution (chrisgreybrexitblog.blogspot.com)

Brexit makes liars of everyone who tries to enact it, even if they are not by nature as mendacious as Johnson or as destructive as Cummings. For it derives ultimately from the lies within the Vote Leave campaign itself which, at heart, promised that Brexit could be done without negative consequences. This led May into such tortured positions on, for example, maintaining ‘frictionless trade’ whilst leaving the institutions that make that possible. It is still present in Johnson and the Brexiters’ underlying position that there can be an open border in Ireland whilst leaving the institutions that make that possible.