On the 25th May 2018 a new law hit the UK that changed how organisations held people’s private date such as their name, address, email etc. It was called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and sought to ensure that there is greater transparency over what information is held about us online and in databases.
In preparing for this day I got a load of emails from organisations asking me to verify that they could keep sending me their marketing materials. Hopefully this new regulation will mean fewer spam emails and phone calls over the coming years as there is a greater penalty for misuse of personal information.
All this focus on personal data made me think about three important lessons for learning more about how the gospel impacts our daily lives in this area:
We are more than our data
In this day of social media and everything being online, it is sometimes easy to forget that even through you may know all about someone from their Twitter or Facebook feed, you don’t really know that person until you meet them and spend time with them. All of us whether we realise it or not present only a certain side of our personality online, the real us is much too complex, contradictory and cautious to bare all online.
We are so much more than the bare statistics of our life, what our name is, where we live, who we are married to, our waist size, our iQ, our job title. All of this data is a representation of the person behind it, and can be copied by others to try and steal our identity, but the real you stands distinct and separate from all the numbers and characters.
Our data is not our own
GDPR says to us that we control the data about ourselves, and can have it removed and deleted if we so wish from any UK organisation that holds information about us. While it is theoretically possible to remove every digital copy of our data there is an infallible and never-ending record of not only ever online transaction, but everything we have said, done and thought being recorded right now.
This is the story of our life as recorded by an infinite, all-knowing God who is the one who really does own all of the information about you and me – the God who created time, the universe and human history. All of life is logged away in his memory banks, a perfect record of our lives, for better or for worse.
He owns this data and no amount of hitting “unsubscribe” will remove it from this database. It is permanently etched onto his memory for all time by every person who is alive now and has ever lived. God knows us inside and out, and has it all on file!
Your data will destroy you
As this data repository grows throughout our lives it shows us for who we really are, not the photoshopped version of ourselves, but the real you. All of us fail at some point or another, all of us leave traces behind us of weakness or corruption. We seek to move on and forget the bad stuff and hope that no one ever pulls up that file or views that video, but it is there like a silent depth charge waiting to explode at the first contact.
None of us can claim to have a totally pure hard-drive. Our personal data is private but not hidden. On the final day everything will be laid bare and the private will become public, and the hidden things revealed. Unless we act now, it will then be clear that the viruses were not the only reason our files were corrupted.
Data cleansing is for real
The good news is that the record can really be swept clean. Although in this life every online action leaves a trace, by the power of the one who made us he is able to destroy our records once and for all – through the cleansing that comes from the death of his Son.
Then we will find that there is really only one piece of information that is really important and we are happy for the entire world to know – whether we are his disciple or not. It will be this piece of data that will split mankind right down the middle, and it will be this tiny piece of data that restores and refreshes our systems totally and completely one day.
So feel free to unsubscribe from following this blog at any point, and let me know if you want your email address deleted, but just make sure you don’t opt out of GDPR – gospel driven personal renewal!