Watch Our Free Webinar on GDPR: What Is GDPR and What Is Your Host’s Role in It?

Last week we had a webinar with SiteGround’s Senior Legal Advisor - Maya Stoyanova talking about GDPR, what it is and what you need to do about it. We share the video from the webinar here so you can watch it and find out if and how that new European regulation concerns you.

*Please excuse us for the poor quality of the image.
As promised, we are posting the replies to the questions we couldn't answer during the webinar here.


Important: Please note that GDPR is still very new and open to interpretations topic with a lot of vague areas so all answers to your questions should be considered only as an opinion and not as legal advice on the matter.

Ugo: Email data on SiteGround servers, GDPR compliance? SiteGround or customer responsibility?
The protection of all personal data, including email addresses stored on SiteGround servers, is a shared responsibility between the client owning that data and SiteGround. SiteGround is responsible for the integrity of the server hosting the data, but the client has to take care of passwords and other access to that data. The client is also responsible for storing the data and deleting old emails when needed. The Data Processing Agreement that we will provide shortly, aims to explain that responsibility.

Damiano (Posit S.C): Somebody knows about a Magento plugin for GDPR?
We haven’t yet managed to test all GDPR plugins for the different CMSs we host so unfortunately, we cannot make a recommendation for a specific plugin, but you may surely check the Magento marketplace for such.

Giovanna: Can I keep my Google Analytics cookies activated by default?
Cookies, web beacons, pixel tags and similar technologies placed on your website for Google Analytics, social media sites or else, should be explained and covered by the Cookie policy. We do not engage with recommendations whether to keep the cookies activated by default or wait for the user’s consent and then place them, but we can confirm that you need to provide a way for the user to manage those cookies and disable them.

My understanding from reading so far is that a user must be given the option to opt-in, not out, and that there must be clarity as to how the personally identifiable data will be used (and consequently not misused), but does that mean that user information (e.g. how they’ve operated on the site - usually this has no personally identifiable data) is actually now an issue, and how do we deal with existing mailing lists?
Yes, users have to opt-in, not opt-out, especially for marketing-related activities. If you use your mailing list to send users promotional emails, newsletters or other content that is not directly related to the provisioning of the service you deliver, then you need to have their explicit consent to receive such emails. If you gathered your list without asking for such an explicit consent, it is recommended that you run a re-consent campaign (send an email to ask them and give them the option to say Yes or No) and get agreement from your users to use their emails for such purposes.

Amanda Thomson: Do we have to inform existing customers of how we hold their data (B2B)? Or is GDPR really designed to prevent SPAM emails to prospective customers?
Regardless of the type of client, if there is personal data collected and/or stored by you, you need to prepare a Privacy Policy explaining what’s the use of that data. GDPR is designed to protect individuals from all sorts of abuse of their personal data. Also, please ensure that you have a GDPR-compliant agreement for your B2B exchange that governs the purposes of processing.

Oscar: If I have a blog that only redirects traffic to other companies through affiliate links, how does GDPR affect me?
If you do not collect any personal data (and we have to make a lot of assumptions to be sure of that - no IP log, no comments section on the blog that collects email and name, no stats, etc.), our recommendation is to evaluate firmly your site for comment forms, contact forms, newsletters subscriptions to confirm this is true. And you need to verify that you do not serve targeted ads without user consent to such cookies.

Jaimie: Cookie notifications topic, mixing implied and explicit consent in the cookie notification statement for new visitors. Is it ok to mix implied and explicit consent such as "by using this site" for performance/security cookies and an "accept" button for anything else?
There are examples and opinions that refer to explicit categories and zero-cookies approach until consent is received. For sure official authorities have issued an opinion that tracking and labeling users as being interested into a given information require consent and that first-party cookies should be clearly distinguished from third-party ones.

Peter: SG is the BEST!!! - if I live in the U.S., does GDPR apply to me?
Thanks! 🙂 If you have traffic from the EU and you store any personal data about these EU visitors, then the answer is yes.

Jackie O Brien: As a company who only deals with business to business contacts where do we stand with GDPR?
Unfortunately, it’s more likely for you to be liable than not, even though you work with businesses and not individuals. For example, you may be collecting IPs, or stats cookies and pixels, or you may be collecting names and emails in your forms - all these cases urge you to be GDPR-compliant. Even if these emails are business emails, they still trace back to an individual so they have to be protected.

Benji: Since WordPress isn’t GDPR compliant yet, would I then explain this in a contract with a client and if they sign it, would this then cover myself?
No, you will not be covered. You need to make sure that the way you use WordPress and all installed plugins and templates for the needs of that client is GDPR-compliant. WordPress is a piece of software that you put on your website and server, but what personal data you collect through that WordPress and what data you share with third parties via the plugins you install, is the main thing you should evaluate when deciding if you need to be GDPR-compliant.

Sara: Can I continue to use Google Drive to store data?
As a general rule, you need to make sure that any service provider being Google or other is GDPR-compliant by going over their privacy policy and terms of service. AND, if you store personal data on that Google Drive, you need to make sure they also have a Data Processing Agreement as they will be processing the data you collect there.

Evelia Amos: Please clarify if a business needs explicit consent when we post on social media platforms sounds or images.
Not sure what kind of images and sounds you refer to. Normally, images may fall under GDPR and you may need explicit consent. However sharing images and sounds/music can be governed by Intellectual property and similar roles and under them you may not need consent but an authorization of the right for usage, distribution, and modification. If under GDPR, people have the right to withdraw that consent later and you have to oblige and remove the image if they do so.

Kira: I am a small sole business, don't store customers details, use PayPal, MailChimp, and Gumroad to process orders/payments, and newsletter subscriptions. I have a directory of healers, just photos with mailboxes, they do not work for me. What do I need to be GDPR compliant if anything? I'm so keen not to have visitors to my websites monitored, that I don't use Google analytics.
Even though you don’t store the data on your site, you are the owner of it - clients authorize you to collect it and by the letter of the law you are “controller” of that data. The 3 partners you work with are “processors” and you are all under the obligation to be GDPR-compliant. You still need to have a privacy policy that explains to your clients that you work with these partners and for what purposes their data will be stored. You also need to make sure you get explicit consent from your clients to send them newsletters (maybe do a re-consent campaign). And you need to make sure these 3 partners are GDPR-compliant.

Marco: I read that the data server must be in the same country of my business activity or in the EU. Which one is true? Where are SiteGround servers located?
Having the servers in the same country where your business comes from is not part of the GDPR regulations. However, storing and processing data outside EEA falls under additional measures (transfers abroad). I would recommend you to check with your local authorities for more information on that matter. As to our data centers, we have servers in Chicago, Singapore, Amsterdam, and London and you may choose where your data to be hosted.

Akin Ladapo: But IP addresses can be temporary and from various servers if traffic is rerouted. So the IP address identifies a user?
In some European countries, IP addresses are treated as personal data on their own.

Missy: Collecting visitor information through a website contact form that does not save data to the database but only sends an email to the administrator, does the website owner need to obtain consent?
Yes, users have to provide you with an agreement to collect their personal data and need to be aware how you will use that data. Even though you do not store it, you still collect it somewhere (in an inbox or file or else) and could use it.

Guilherme: You said that we should use IP address to know that the user is from Europe, but what about tourists? For example, a Brazilian visiting or living in Europe - does he/she fit in the GPDR? And what about a European who lives in Brazil?
In general, the best way to be sure where a client is from is when they provide you with country and address for billing or other purposes (on your registration or order form). If you have that information, regardless what the IP says, you treat the user as an EU individual if their country is in the EU. But, if you do not have that information, then you work with the IP - if their IP is from the EU - you treat them as EU individuals. You do not need to know if they are Brazilians and just pass through the EU as tourists or vice versa. You work with the data you can record about them.

Trevor: If we don't use cookies on our site - do we need a GDPR statement?
If you’re storing and/or processing personal data, you need to be GDPR compliant. Cookies fall under ePrivacy regulation. My advice would be to check for any forms on your site first and see how you manage the information transmitted through it.

Jaidev Kesavan: If the payment system on a website is handled by a 3rd party service provider such as Paypal or Razorpay (Indian service provider), is it the job of the payment service provider to protect data privacy or the website owner's, considering that the payment gateway service collects customer information and not the website owner?
Even though you don’t store the data on your site, you are the owner of it - clients authorize you to collect it and by the letter of the law you are “controller” of that data. It is your responsibility to inform the client that their data will be collected and for what purposes and by which partners of yours. You also have to make sure your processors are GDPR-compliant.

Bart: Is "anything that can identify an individual" an accurate definition because this would also include info like: preferences, web browser, language, and most troublesome mobile?
Yes, “anything” is accurate, but have in mind that some of that data serves as an identifier only if used together with other data. Just language or browser used, does not identify a person, but if you also have something else about the user, then you may be able to profile them and thus you may need to be GDPR-compliant.

Fernando Gonzalerz: Do we need to add or change our privacy policy section? Also will be joining up a bit after the start time, would that be acceptable? So same question as Dixie Thanks!
It is very likely that you need to change your privacy policy if it does not explain for what purposes you collect personal data, how you use it and who has access to it.

PeachPerfectWeddings: Hi guys, apart from GDPR, is there a good overview list of such things (legal requirements etc.) that a small business, which is based in EU but serves clients from all over the world, has to ensure? As in not directly selling online but just website with our services.
Unfortunately, no. But in this webinar, we have covered the basics and this is a good start for any business.

Sandra Eversberg: I use Joomla, have installed Google Analytics and a Facebook Pixel and wonder if there is any plugin for Joomla which allows the user to opt-in/opt-out from those services with a click of a button. Do you know any of those?
Unfortunately, we cannot recommend a plugin for that purpose. The good news is that the EU wants to make it possible for users to be able to opt-out by changing their browser settings. It will take time before that gets applied though.

Mary Balandiat: I have a privacy policy that a company wrote for me. How do I know it's compliant? What words should be in it to look for? Also, if you do giveaway & gather names and email addresses, how do handle compliancy? What part in this GDPR handles that and where to check it?
I believe the best way to handle that is by using common sense. If you understand the principles of the GDPR, think if your privacy policy, as written by your contractor, is clear enough and explains the actual purpose and use of the data collected, and does it become clear who has access to that data and why. You can check this website for more information:

Melissa: I am under the impression that if our website is only US based & we don't do any business in the UK that this will not be an issue. Is that the case? I have a local (one state) directory.
If you do not get ANY traffic from the EU (any EU IPs) or users signing up with а country in the EU, then you have nothing to worry about. Yet, please make sure you are really not collecting any personal data from EU citizens before you take a final decision on how to proceed.

Anna Potter: Hello, I have an online booking system within my website, what do I need to do regarding information clients input into this diary to make an appointment? Thank you.
I suggest you start with two main things: check if you could simplify the booking form and collect only the minimum amount of data needed for a reservation and then ask your clients to agree to your privacy policy, where you explain how you use that data and who else has access to it. If you use any of that data for marketing purposes such as sending them promotional emails, you need to ask for a separate explicit consent by these clients to send them such emails.

Trisha Torrey: I am located in the US, run a membership site, and 99.9% of my membership is located in the US and Canada. Do I need to set up for GDPR compliance? Maybe I should just restrict membership to the US and Canada only?
If you could sacrifice the 0.1% of the traffic, then the easiest solution is to restrict membership. Otherwise, you have to become GDPR-compliant.

Ellen Rothwax: what are the consequences if you do not comply? How will this be enforced?
The fines are really heavy. There are authorities in every country that will monitor and enforce sanctions. These authorities will make checks on companies for compliance or will take action when they are alerted by a complaint.

Kunal Khanna: What is the scope of this compliance? Does it apply to only personal email IDs (Like Gmail/Hotmail etc.) OR it also includes official email IDs?
The compliance aims to protect individuals and their personal data. However, an individual’s business email may also be considered as personal data as it allows you to identify who that person is and also send them promotional emails for example.

Spafford: Can you review the implications and complications of Facebook or Google Pixels on the website. For example, is it legal?
There is no law that forbids you to use Facebook and Google Pixels, but if you use them, the GDPR requires you to disclose that to your users so that they are informed that their data is collected and used and ask for consent.

Luigi: What about the Documentation requirement of GDPR? Is that necessary for running a website?
Check with local authorities if you need any additional paperwork, but the most crucial documentation required is all the contracts between you and your clients, and you and your partners that cover the use of personal data of your clients. These are items you prepare if you collect and store personal data and place on your website or keep on file in case you get investigated.

Lisa: Is the cookie law separate and still needed in addition to the GDPR?
Yes, it is still there and now you have to not only ask for consent but also give the user the option to opt-out from getting cookies and still be able to browse your site.

Manuel: What about when you just receive your customer's name, email, and phone through the contact form on your website. Does the customer have to be informed of the use of that info right before they send the message? Or is it enough with the terms accepted by the user when entering the website for the first time?
Depends on how you got their agreement in the first place, but in general, we recommend you to get explicit consent on the form before the send button.

Joanna: Is this legislation retroactive? If so, how can a website owner in the US figure out who on their list is in the EU?
It is not retroactive, but as of May 25 if you have users who are EU residents or citizens, even if they signed up in the past, they need to be informed of how you use their personal data. You can segment your user list based on IP or country. If you do not have such data, you may want to come up with a campaign when all users agree to your privacy policy just to be safe.

Ulrika: What does the GDPR state about crowdfunding, newsletters and donating/sponsoring clients?
It doesn’t matter why people are giving you their data, it only matters that you collect such data. Clients donating you money through a crowdfunding campaign are still vulnerable and are protected by the GDPR. As to the newsletters that you will be sending them, you need to ask for their explicit and separate consent.

Njoki: We have donors from both Europe and America, will the GDPR affect all inclusive and how do I ensure that all in the database are covered? We have a database of over 20,000 people.
All EU donors need to be aware what data you collect about them and how you use it and if you use it to market services to them. You need to ask for explicit consent. Additionally, you need to make sure that the access to this database is secure and as few people as possible have access to it, and those people are aware of their liability if that data is abused.

Manager of WordPress Initiatives

Enthusiastic about all Open Source applications you can think of, but mostly about WordPress. Add a pinch of love for web design, new technologies, search engine optimisation and you are pretty much there!


  1. Reply May 14, 2018 / 13:22 KeithSiteGround Team

    I asked a question which was not answered. The question was what are the implications of Brexit from a GDPR POV if I am in a EU country post brexit but Im still using the UK servers.. technically this constitutes moving Data outside of the EU so what are SG doing around this?

    • Reply May 15, 2018 / 05:46 Angelina MichevaSiteGround Team

      Hi Keith,

      The relationship between the UK and the European Union after the Brexit is still uncertain. Various models of cooperation have been highlighted.

      As a third country, the European rules for transfer of personal data to third countries would apply to the UK as well and using UK servers will constitute moving data outside of the EU. Then, either an adequacy decision or appropriate safeguards (which include standard contractual clauses, Binding Corporate Rules, code of conduct) would be required to transfer data from the European Union Member States to the UK.

      Depending on the final agreements between UK and EU, UK may remain a member of the European Economic Area, the GDPR may remain UK law or following a legal process the European Commission may allow free flow of data.

  2. Reply May 16, 2018 / 02:47 JaimieSiteGround Team

    Thanks for the Webinar and answered questions, it has been a huge help in an epic ongoing job!

    • Reply May 16, 2018 / 03:07 Angelina MichevaSiteGround Team

      Thank you for feedback. Great to hear the webinar helped in your compliance efforts.

  3. Reply May 17, 2018 / 22:32 Richard KelseySiteGround Team

    I am not sure I can longer offer hosting for clients under a shared hosting plan. That seems VERY iffy. It's one account I OWN, and I have several accounts I have access to: email, website, etc. Even if I tell them, and they know. I could be liable for a data breach.

    • Reply May 18, 2018 / 03:47 Angelina MichevaSiteGround Team

      Hi Richard,

You are correct that you will have a responsibility to be compliant with the processing your clients' data under GDPR for the services you provide for managing their websites. 

      With regard to the hosting service you are using with us, SiteGround will meet the obligation to keep and maintain the privacy of your details. In addition, the new data processing agreement (DPA) we will provide to our customers will regulate our processing of that data only for the purposes of delivering the hosting service and resolving technical inquiries and no other secondary functions, which has always been the case. You can use the DPA in getting ready to be compliant under GDPR for the services you provide to your clients, which represent separate contractual agreements you have with them.
      We recommend you consult a legal expert on the best way to draft your policies for collecting and processing data regarding the clients’ websites you host on your account.

  4. Reply May 18, 2018 / 05:43 Christina Neumeister-BöckSiteGround Team

    Hi there,
    will you send out the new Data Processing Agreement to all your customers as soon as you have it ready or do I have to get in contact with you for you to send me the Data Processing Agreement?

    • Reply May 18, 2018 / 06:29 Angelina MichevaSiteGround Team

      Hi Christina,

      When our New Data Processing Agreement is ready it will be publicly available on our website. There will be information for you as a client on how to access it. You can follow our communication channels for updates and monitor the administrative email for your account with us.

  5. Reply May 21, 2018 / 15:07 DoraSiteGround Team

    Is there a transcript available for the webinar?
    If so, I would greatly appreciate a link to it!

    Thank you.

    • Reply May 22, 2018 / 00:47 Hristo PandjarovSiteGround Team

      I am afraid we don't have one yet.

  6. Reply May 22, 2018 / 15:35 Nicholas JohnsonSiteGround Team

    Can you please provide link to your new DPA as time is running out....

  7. Reply May 23, 2018 / 16:40 KarenSiteGround Team

    what happens if I take my websites offline (switch on maintenance mode or display a under construction page)? Do I still have to deal with GDPR right now? I have not been able to work on my websites for quite some time due to health issues and I'm simply overwhelmed by all the information. 🙁

    • Reply May 28, 2018 / 07:08 Hristo PandjarovSiteGround Team

      If your site is under maintenance mode, you shouldn't worry about GDPR. Unless, you're doing something bad with the data you've already stored.

  8. Reply May 24, 2018 / 23:22 MichaelSiteGround Team

    Where can I find the Contract for data processing? Where does this have to be completed?
    Thank you for your help.

  9. Reply June 24, 2018 / 13:40 Rick Stoneking SrSiteGround Team

    Can we use the SiteGround Privacy Policy that is already GDPR Compliant as a sample to create our own Privacy Policy? It seems the EU is hell bent on controlling the world. Since I am an International company I will have to comply anyway and though not a web host, I am sure yours will be easiest to simply modify.

    • Reply June 25, 2018 / 01:07 Hristo PandjarovSiteGround Team

      I think it's a good sample, but don't copy/paste it since it's been written for our company specifically and there's no way it will match your needs 🙂

  10. Reply February 11, 2019 / 09:37 Anita AlexusSiteGround Team

    I have no question on this subject as l am very well informed from the start of the Introduction of GDPR and even attended a Course and earn a Certificate, enabling me to represent my company.

    I just wanted to thank Siteground for accurate responses to Clients. And to thank Siteground Customers for asking good questions, interest on the subject matter of today and for the future. Claiming to know certainty.

    It is difficult at present to know for sure of any certainty, everyone around the world is just waiting including the government in question. Guess we just have to hold on and wait to see what the end of uncertainty would be. This waiting is frustrating to all companies both large and small. The Institute of Directors (ID) and Confederation of British Industry (CBI) are in talks with the government among other leading Industries. Farmers, car manufacturers, borders, importers and exporters, name it, are being frustrated, even ERASMUS students are unsure of their future.

    We just need to be patient and see what the overall outcome would be, difficult to make any decision at present, l understand this is frustrating!

    Thank you Siteground for your kind support to all! As always, simply the Best Hosting Company that have the customers interest at heart with great values!

    • Reply February 12, 2019 / 03:25 Hristo PandjarovSiteGround Team

      Thanks for the kind words, Anita!

  11. Reply March 5, 2019 / 18:24 AnneSiteGround Team

    I was wondering about the use of self-hosted analytics like Matomo - rather than Google Analytics - because it sounds like it would be easier to keep any collected data private.

    The Matomo website says it works fine on shared hosting for low to medium-ish traffic sites, but I get a little paranoid about blind experimentation - and cannot find any specific information on the web. Do you have any information on whether self-hosted analytics would use too much of server resources on shared hosting?

    Thank you!

    • Reply March 8, 2019 / 01:29 Hristo PandjarovSiteGround Team

      That really depends on the traffic your site gets but generally, analytics solutions store huge amount of data and then analyze it. I would always recommend using hosted solution instead of something that runs on the same account as your site.

      • March 9, 2019 / 21:55 AnneSiteGround Team

        That's what I needed to know. Thanks!


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