What authority does the European Union have over your real estate business? That’s a tricky question, but an E.U. rule that takes effect next month could end up affecting your business in some manner. That’s because any European that comes to your web site to browse listings will be covered by what’s called the GDPR. That stands for General Data Protection Regulation and it won’t let your web site drop a cookie on a European’s computer unless you get affirmative consent. That means a box that says something like, “We use cookies. OK if we put one on your computer?,” has to pop up when someone from the European Economic Area comes to your web site. What’s more, if you process data on a European you have to be ready to delete that data if you’re requested to. That means you have to have a way to identify  that data so you can take the action requested.

As you can imagine, how the EU would enforce this is a big, unanswered question. There will probably be litigation, too. So, it’s possible it will be a while before anything actually happens that affects U.S. businesses. But there are other things to keep in mind. First, the United States might align its rules with the E.U. Second, regardless of that, many U.S. businesses might align their online privacy and security  practices with the E.U. model, regardless of enforcement. That means you’ll probably see more U.S. companies asking for affirmative consent when anyone comes to their web sites. Third, there could be alignment with European rules on data processing, too.

This is all speculation. The rule is real but it’s actual impact here can’t be fully known yet. But you can see where things are heading and it’s not a bad idea to take steps to be prepared for however things shake out.

NAR will be hosting a Facebook Live webcast next week, on Tuesday, April 24, at 1 p.m., Central time (2 p.m., Eastern time) to walk you through what’s happening and what you might do to be ready. The presenters will be Finley Maxson, NAR senior counsel, and Liz Sturrock, NAR vice president of information technology. They’ll be talking with Meg White, managing editor of REALTOR® Magazine.

You’re encouraged to ask questions. Here’s more information on the event: EU Privacy Rule: Are You Impacted?