Roughly 2 weeks ago, pre-GDPR, I get a windows update on my home PC. Nothing new, so I update the PC as I shut it down for the night. When I eventually make my way back to my PC a few days later to play some games. I put on my headset and jump on the voice chat. No one can hear me, and I cannot hear anyone. What is going on?
I try everything I can think of. I reinstall the headset’s drivers without results. I reinstall the programs I am trying to run it on and still no sound coming through the microphone, nothing. My headset must be busted, but then I check it in the audio settings of the PC itself. I can hear my voice when I click the “listen to this device” option. “Alright, this is beyond me” I think to myself. I submit a ticket on the headset manufacturer’s support website.
The first email I get back is a rehash of what I had already done. I know my IT folks though, and you have to listen to their instructions, so they can diagnose your problem. I reinstall the drivers a second time, but no dice. I update the ticket with this new information and head to bed, getting ready for a weekend. Then on Memorial Day I get the answer.
“Ben, have you checked the privacy settings for microphones in windows?”
I open up the settings, and find that yes, Windows has set itself to not allow applications access to a microphone on my headset. This is Privacy by Default, or protecting personal information without the user adjusting settings for an application or program. Privacy by Default is specifically called out in GDPR, so had I been thinking EU privacy law and not technical issues, this would have been fixed much faster. I click the check box in the settings and everything works. After a few minutes of sighing and resting my face in my palm I got back to relaxing.
A great lesson to pull from this is that when you, as a vendor, update a policy or change an environment’s settings, you want to conspicuously call that out. When I updated my PC, I did not see any notification of what changed, and the fact that my headset wasn’t working as intended would make me think something is wrong, not that I needed to adjust my settings.
Transparency is part of GDPR (or any good privacy program). Being as open as possible is only going to help you and your customers.