Doc Pop’s News Drop: WordPress 4.9.6 Adds Privacy and GDPR Features

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Doc’s WordPress News Drop is a weekly report on the most pressing WordPress news. When the news drops, I will pick it up and deliver it right to you.

The GDPR Compliance team has been working hard on adding new privacy tools to WordPress. The current beta release for 4.9.6 has many of these features in place. The final version of WordPress 4.9.6 is expected to be released before the GDPR goes into effect on May 25th. In this week’s News Drop video, we go through some of those new features.

Install the WordPress Beta Tester plugin to give it a try, and if you find any bugs, report them on the Alpha/Beta forum.

We also hear some behind the scenes news from WordCamp Europe about some of the GDPR workshops and sessions at WCEU.

Love WordPress News but hate reading? My name is Doc and this is Doc Pop’s News Drop.

Stay tuned to the end of this video for news about this year’s WordCamp Europe event.

But first, WordPress version 4.9.6 is coming soon and has some pretty big UI changes. No, it’s not the long awaited release of the Gutenberg Editor. This version of WordPress is full of new privacy tools to help prepare your website for GDPR compliance.

In last week’s News Drop, we talked about how the Global Data Protection Regulation could affect WordPress users. We mentioned several plugins that can help you stay compliant and I mentioned that the GDPR Compliance Team are working to add several privacy tools directly into WordPress Core. I had no idea at the time how close they were to implementing those changes and it seems like many of the features of 4.9.6 might make most of those GDPR plugins unnecessary. So lets dive into them.

If you try the current beta version of 4.9.6, the first thing you may notice is a notification in your dashboard stating:

“From time to time, your WordPress site may send data to WordPress.org”

This is of course to help WordPress.org keep better statistics about WordPress usage, and not about your personal data.

Speaking of Personal Data, the GDPR requires that sites allow users to obtain whatever personal data your site has collected on them as well as request to have that information removed.

WordPress 4.9.6 doesn’t include an easy one click option for this. Instead, visitors will need to go to your site’s privacy page to find out how to contact your site’s adminastrator and send them that request. That sounds a little clunky, but if you receive one of these requests, it sounds like 4.9.6 makes it easy to either export or remove that users information by going to Tools > Export Personal Data or Tools > Remove Personal Data, then sending that user a verification request.

Remember when I mentioned a privacy page? WordPress 4.9.6 also includes an easy template for creating a Privacy Page by going to Settings>Privacy, then creating a new page or adding a privacy page to an existing page. This will generate a fairly standard site policy script with your sites information automatically added.

One of the other big changes in 4.9.6 is cookie opt-in for comments. When a visitor has cookies enabled, they can return to a site and easily have their username and website fields auto-completed. Most websites have cookies on by default, but the new WordPress comments system has cookies off by default with a little box giving users the chance to opt-in to having their information stored. I don’t think this is ideal, but the GDPR has a strong emphasis on opting-in to data collection.

WordPress version 4.9.6 is currently in beta, with plans to have the official release before May 25th, when GDPR goes into effect. If you’d like to try this beta version, you can install the WordPress Beta Tester plugin, then go to you dashboard and update your WordPress to the beta version.

If you find any bugs, you can report them in the Alpha/Beta section of the forums, we’ll put a link to that in the description.
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Now let’s check in with Jenny Beaumont, the lead organizer of this year’s WordCamp Europe:

Thanks Jenny!

It’s an exciting month for WordPress, with GDPR and Gutenberg on their way and WordPress’s 15th birthday, so be sure to stay tuned next week for more WordPress news. Thanks for watching.

Doctor Popular is an artist and musician living in San Francisco. As a full disclaimer, he is neither a doctor nor popular.

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