Category Archives: Legal

2024 Testing

This year I wrote some blog posts about legal and certification stuff. like January Testing and May 2018 Testing. So it would be appropriate to shed some light on accessibility and laws.

Disclaimer

I am not a legal expert. So please have a look at my used sources. Or contact a legal expert.

I am just a tester finding test ideas about accessibility. Thanks for joining in advance.

What?

During #30DaysOfTesting I recommended to follow Karl Groves and Albert Gareev on Twitter for accessibility. Karl had interesting news for European software suppliers. Some law for accessibility was coming.

Accessibility is coming to EU.
[On the melody of “Santa Claus is coming to town.”]

I started my search engine and found the European Accessibility Act or EAA.
Great, a new abbreviation for upsetting the PO.

On November 8 the EU wrote a proposal to improve accessibility. In section 3.5 “The proposal” of Annex 1 is written, that the implementation should take place within 6 years.

A lot of readers might think:
“No worries, mate.
2024 is beyond the horizon.”

So what?

A lot of companies would think, that this is a rehearsal of the GDPR situation. A lot of companies still think, that everything is under control. Just have a read over a forgotten test.

Okay, a typical reaction about accessibility is:
“There is no law in place.”

Let me give several comments to this statement.

  • It is not ethical. People are dependent from the internet. There are online shops, online bank portals, online government points of access, and so on. People with limitations have a right to use them.
  • There are human rights and right no 9 states, that things must be accessible. Basically the EU bought companies some time.
  • The global organisation World Wide Web Consortium or W3C created Web Content Accessibility Guidelines to help people and companies to make applications accessible. WCAG or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines is mentioned in EAA. So it is a set of practical information to make websites accessible.
  • Actually there are American laws for accessibility.
    These laws are based on WCAG.

    Accessibility is coming from the States.
    [On the melody of “Santa Claus is coming to town.”]

    Companies are being sued because of these laws at this very moment. So watch out with shipping your software to the States.

  • Websites for European institutions must be accessible.
  • Maybe at the end of this blog post I have some other comments.
    : )
    Just scroll down and up.
    I can wait.
What now?

As a reader you have the right to ask for test ideas.
OK, let’s have a look at an OK button.

  • Is it possible to navigate to this button using the keyboard?
  • Is the contrast of the text “OK” and the background big enough?
  • Is OK written in clear font?
  • Are symbols and colours used to indicate, that a press of the button is a confirmation?
  • Is OK not offensive in this context?
  • Does the screen reader recognise the OK button?
  • Etc.

Imagine the dialog with the “OK” button.
Roll up your sleeves.

  • Are the consequences of pressing the OK button clear?
  • Is a pop up dialog really necessary?
  • And so on. And so forth.
What are we waiting for?

It takes time to find the right combination for accessibility.

Did I already mention, that American companies have a clear advantage?
Or the fact, that government websites in the Netherlands must be accessible to a certain degree.

Accessibility on Dutch goverment websites.
[On the melody of “Santa Claus is coming to town.”]

GDPR – The forgotten tests – Test 3

Showing the status code 451 instead of a website is not enough to avoid GDPR penalties in particular cases.

Management report

Showing an error message instead of the website to users with a laptop or PC in EU is not enough. Tracking EU citizens without consent is still possible and therefore not GDPR compliant.

The section ‘Advice’ provides a more detailed description.

Disclaimer

I am not a legal expert. So please have a look at my used sources. Or contact a GDPR expert.

I am just a tester finding test ideas about GDPR. Thanks for joining in advance.

Experience report

This is my way to reflect on my research in GDPR of the last months. It took me lots of hours.

If I missed a legal or W3C link, you can always contact me. I am happy to update this blog post.

 

This spring I prepared a workshop about blogging. I tweeted about the use of sketch notes to find fieldstones. It got attention from @ConstanceHermit and Mike Rohde.

Mike had a familiar name. I bought his book about sketch noting.
He asked me for a sketch note for testing. OK. Wow. WOW.
Sure no problem.

I only had to wait for a good opportunity to put his request in practice. After a few months I saw a tweet about code on a web page:
“451: the website cannot be shown because of legal reasons.”

I visualised some scenarios and found some problems in the chosen solution. In case of impatience you can skip to the end of the article for the sketch notes. Be my guest.

Numbers are fast to communicate. If people want a pizza and call numbers, then I can go to the website and just enter the called numbers.

A pizza menu was used to abbreviate the pizza names: 16 is pizza Salami, etc. This way a protocol was set up.

The internet Hypertext Transfer Protocol is used for web sites. Status codes like 451 provide information to the user.

The problem with being a tester is to make an understandable message. This is quite hard. It is like telling how a car works without using names of car parts. I wanted to put 451 in the sketch note, but that was intimidating. I also skipped flow diagrams.

I also wanted to show off with test techniques. This was again: Not done. This is only nice for testers, but this is no good for people unfamiliar with testing. I can guarantee you that their number is way bigger than the number of testers.

Several drafts later.
One sketch note became 2 sketch notes. First I drew with a dark marker, then I used other markers for more details.

Then I set a new deadline for myself. I would use the sketch notes in a presentation. If a speaker could not make it at the test conference a week later, then I would volunteer. GDPR is still interesting stuff for testers. In legal terms it is good for the public interest.

Now I had to check my picture. And I hit the wall. It hurt.
Access is denied to the website because of tracking without consent

451 was used for legal demands. I clicked on the link to the official request to add an extra code to the HTTP protocol.
This looked pretty official.

In this case the ministry of justice contacted the internet service provider, which in turn shows a 451 to the user. Sorry access denied.

So this was not about web sites silencing themselves.
So all the hours spent were for nothing. I lost hours of work. I felt miserable. This is part of research.

The weekend before the test conference I looked on the internet. This time I searched on 451 and GDPR. The blog post ‘Is http 451 suitable for GDPR blocking?’ popped up.

So I started my due diligence.

Is it right
What I write?

The author is Terence Dent. That was the guy who had the idea for 451. I looked again in the official proposal for 451. Terence was mentioned. So my sketch note was almost good.

So I only had to change the picture. And I was all set.
Access is sometimes denied to the website because of tracking without consent
I shared my deadline with my kids and they talked about it the next days.

The evening before the conference I checked my sketch note about citizenship. GDPR was quite vague:
“Data subjects who are in the EU” [Article 2]

I could not find something about nationality. So a Dutchman in his own country is a data subject in EU. But a Dutchman in the US is not a data subject in the EU. Did I miss something?

So again I was facing a legal problem in my sketch note.

I used my search engine and found several answers on my question: is it possible to track EU citizens outside the EU?
On Quora there was majority in favour for not tracking. One legal looking website had a complex advice with lots of conditions.

Law is not about democracy, but about sticking to the rules.
Basically I hit the wall again.

Now I am a Dutchman. The big advantage is that the number of Dutch web pages is lower than the number of English web pages.

I entered several Dutch words in my search engine and I found an official web page
“Bedrijven buiten de EU die gegevens van EU-burgers verwerken, moeten een vertegenwoordiger in de EU aanwijzen.”

Please allow me to translate this in English by using the language button on the page:
“Non-EU based businesses processing EU citizen’s data have to appoint a representative in the EU.”

These are the first 2 times I found “EU citizen” on the official EU website pointing to GDPR.
“Is this legal stuff for the court?”
“Sorry no.”
“Really?”

There is a legal notice in the footnote containing a disclaimer. So I am quoting from an interpretation of the EU of GDPR. GDPR is leading and not the interpretation.

The day before first publication date I read article 2 again:
“This Regulation applies to the processing of personal data of data subjects who are in the Union by a controller or processor not established in the Union, where the processing activities are related to:

  • (a) the offering of goods or services, irrespective of whether a payment of the data subject is required, to such data subjects in the Union; or
  • (b) the monitoring of their behaviour as far as their behaviour takes place within the Union.”

The location of the home of the user was not enough. Again I was trying to attempt to tweak this blog post.

Wait. In 2 (a) I found an interesting exception clause. What if an American shop offers products in the EU.
So I drew a shop in the EU.

Okay, here are the promised sketch notes. Sorry for the lengthy introduction.

In the first sketch note I point out that the web site uses the location of the laptop to identify an EU citizen. But this is different from GDPR. The nationality of the user and the location of the shop should be used instead.

Sketch note showing that a web site is denying access based on location instead of nationality and location shop because of tracking.

In the second sketch note there are two situations, which were not intended by the web site owner.

An American cannot access a website in the office in the EU. But GDPR is not applicable.

Suppose your American colleague comes to Germany to help you a hand. Then he wants to go to a website with an expensive subscription. It is not possible: 451. The web site owner will probably state something about GDPR. Hopefully a disclaimer was added for this case.

Looking at GDPR there is no violation. So no privacy penalties are involved.

The second sketch note is really worrying, because an EU citizen is tracked during her or his holidays in the US. That is not right.

EU citizen gets access to American website and gets tracked. This is not always possible according to GDPR because there is a shop in the EU.

The 2nd sketch note looks like

Sketch note which contains the pictures abouthe EU citizen and the American citizen  and emphasizing the differences.

Finally there is a test idea about an American living in the EU, who used to live in the USA and is planning to go back to the USA. I am quite curious whether customer tracking systems can handle all the moves.

For the people who are concerned about money.
Yes, GDPR can have a major impact on your profit.
“Failure to comply with the GDPR may result in significant fines of up to EUR 20 million or 4 % of your company’s global turnover for certain breaches.”

Advice

In some countries the privacy laws outside the EU allow more ways to track users of web sites than General Data Protect Regulation. According to GDPR it is not legal to track the users without their explicit consent in most cases. [Article 7]

A solution is to show an error page 451 that the website cannot be shown because of legal reasons. This is in spirit with the request.

A way to determine the nationality of the user is to use the location of the laptop or PC.  This can be done by determining the internet address.

This is true as long the laptop is used inside the EU. If the laptop is used by an EU citizen outside the EU, then the user might be tracked without consent. This is illegal, if the website offers products in Europe.  [Article 2.a]

According to me the best way is to switch off the immediate tracking of users and ask for explicit consent.

Tips for testing
  • Go as close to the source as possible.
    Read GDPR or find interpretation of the law given by the legislator or representative.
  • Check and double check information and sources.
  • Gamify testing by using different tools.
    I used sketch notes, mind maps, and the internet.
  • Get used to hitting the wall.
Note about experience report

This is my experience report about GDPR testing. I ran in some problems, but I was able to resolve them. I could just skip the problems encountered, but you, the reader, could get a false impression. Learning is stumbling and standing up. And walking again.

GDPR – the Forgotten Tests – Test 2

Black box testing is quite popular: the tester only has to focus on the functions of the system. There is no need to know about things like programming and other techy things.

“But the box in the picture is not completely black.”
“That is a good observation, because it is part of a black box.

Time for a legal break. After the break a pen test.

Disclaimer

I am not a legal expert. So please have a look at my used sources. Or contact a GDPR expert.

I am just a tester finding test ideas about GDPR. Thanks for joining in advance.

The following story has been sanitised by me. Important details have been changed.

Pen test

My wife had bought a gift and she had also found a better gift. So she gave the second gift. And I had the pleasure to return the first gift to the shop. No problem dear.

I went into the shop straight to the counter. After a few sentences I came to my point.
“I want to get my money back.”,
while showing the first gift and the receipt.

The 2 young men went into action. There was a lot of pressing of keys and a new receipt was shown.
“Would you please sign this receipt?”

This was a standard computer generated receipt without a signature field. And I had to leave my signature here. I signed.

I remembered to explore.
“Why do I need to sign this?”
“This way my manager can control, that a customer is returning an article. And not we.”

I ran a quick scenario of returning articles in my head. This sounded reasonable.

But I was still hesitant to leave my signature in the hands of two young men.
“How long will my signature be saved?”
This question led to puzzled faces.

I scribbled the question on a piece of paper. It would be great to have a written answer, so I left my email address.

Then I got my money back and returned 1 week later.

The young man behind the counter recognised me. He went to a pole and pulled my paper with email address off. This was bad.

He dutifully repeated the story about the signature of a customer actually returning an article. The signature would be saved for 1 month. That was fine.

On my way home I was not convinced about the privacy. I had witnessed a breach of my personal data.

Breakdown

In this breakdown I will point to several articles of General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR.

The penalties can be quite big. Let me quote the worst cases
’20 000 000 EUR, or in the case of an undertaking, up to 4 % of the total worldwide annual turnover of the preceding financial year, whichever is higher’ [Article 83 5].

Let me review the most important steps during my visits again. I wanted to return an article and get a refund. Because money is involved, the request for a signature is good [Article 5 1(b)].

The receipt was a bit confusing for me, because there was no clear signature field. I just had to trust what the young men told me [Article 6 1 (f)].

One of the most important things about data is retention period or how long will it be saved. The check of my signature could be executed within a month and then be destroyed. [Article 5 1(e)]

A signature alone is not special. But if I had paid in the online shop, then it is simple to combine my signature with my name and other personal data. This way it is possible for someone else to write letters on behalf of me. It is criminal, but possible.

The note with my email address on a pole was a personal data breach [Article 4 (12)]. It was not intended, but I could get a lot of mails with false promises.

Tips for testing
  • Test the UX or User Experience of the receipt.
    Is it clear to customers that they have to sign a receipt for a refund?
    Can they be specific about any doubts?
  • Ask the people behind the counter, how they explain the refund procedure. Also how they handle personal data like phone numbers and email addresses.
    There are of course managers who will answer the questions flawlessly. Unfortunately they cannot be present in more than 50 shops at the same time all the time.Receipts with signatures should be stored in the same way as money. I did not see how my receipt was stored.

    Small sidestep: after May 25 2018 there were boxes outside shops to collect receipts of customers. If I put a receipt with my name and phone number in the box, then I could be the lucky winner of some fantastic prize. They were cardboard boxes standing on tables.

  • This is an important lesson for myself. If something strange happens, wait to remember it and mention it.

To be continued

GDPR – The Forgotten Tests – Test 1

General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR is all about privacy. If a company handles privacy in the right way, then it can dodge penalties like 20 million Euro or 4 % of the worldwide revenue.

Time for a legal break. Right after this break some idea.

Disclaimer

I am not a legal expert. So please have a look at my used sources. Or contact a GDPR expert.

I am just a tester finding test ideas about GDPR. Thanks for joining in advance.

The following story has been sanitised by me. Important details have been changed.

Bad idea

The job interview was about an agile tester. I thought I could handle that role. The probing questions from the interviewers were increasing. I tried to stay calm and answer the questions in a friendly way.

Then came the expected question about test cases. They should be written beforehand. Time to explore.
“You never know what you will find.”, I remarked.
“Let me give me an example.”

“Your company sent me this mailing.”
I showed a part of the mail.
“At the bottom of the mail I could say, whether I like this mail.”
There were two pictures: one green thumb up and one red thumb down. There was an orange arrow pointing to the thumb up.

“If I hover above the picture of the green thumb, the URL will be shown in the status bar of the mail.” The URL was contained in a red eclipse.

A sketch of a mail with an orange arrow pointing to a thumb up next to a thumb down. The mail also contains a URL in a red eclipse.

“As you notice: the URL is http. This is not secure. If the mail is intercepted, then the reaction of the customer can easily be determined. This is an email about credit, so you can derive that the customer probably has some debts.”

One of the interviewers politely interrupted me:
“Is it possible to intercept mail?”
I gave a technical answer using normal words.
Okay, I got his attention.

Then the exploratory tester awoke in me. And I could not stop him.
“There is a customer number in the mail. This number can be used to get access to an online account.”
I went in full brainstorm mode and described all kinds of product risks or things which could harm the user. I could find information about correspondence about money.

 

I didn’t get the job, but the mailing was fixed afterwards. Obviously 20 million Euros are not enough to qualify as a tester.

But there are retrospectives for.
[On the melody of ‘That’s What Friends Are For’.]

Breakdown

Most of the time primary systems were and are tested for GDPR and national privacy laws. Sometimes this software did not easily support mailings. An easy solution was to use another system outside the company. Specialised in mailings.

All kinds of data like email addresses, names, and profiles were used for mailings. Technical decisions were taken like http instead of https. Somehow the legal department and testers missed something.

According to GDPR the protection of personal data is a fundamental right [ (1) on page 1]. The economic situation of a person can be used for profiling. In turn this can be used to exclude people to get certain services like mortgage [ (75) on page 15].

My tips for testing:

  • become a customer of your own company and use all available channels. Watch for the legal details like the missing s of https. (See last tip)
  • follow security experts on social media. (You know about the last tip)
  • explain legal and security stuff in normal words.
  • let the owner control the flow of information. I should have send my brainstorm on request.
  • read  ‘Here’s Why Your Static Website Needs HTTPS’ by Troy Hunt, a security researcher. It contains an entertaining 25 minute video with several attacks on an http website.
    For people new to security, just watch the video and focus on what you would not like to happen on your website.

Closing note:
At the moment there are browsers showing whether a website is insecure. This was not the case, when I received this mailing.

To be continued.

May 2018 Testing

For the interested British reader this is not about politics. It is about testing software so that it complies with the General Data Privacy Regulation or GDPR in May 2018.

For the people who are only concerned about money. It can cost your company 4% of the global annual income of your company or 20 million Euros. That is seriously a lot of money.
Thanks for your attention.

Disclaimer

I am not a legal expert. So please have a look at my used sources. Or contact a GDPR expert.

I am just a tester finding test ideas about GDPR.
Thanks for joining in advance.

Just show it to me

Suppose you have a cinema and a special web site. You can order tickets, drinks, and snacks in advance. This is a unique selling point.

A marketeer has a nice idea:
“Let’s make some profiles. We’ve got lot of sales numbers, so boost those numbers.”
“What do you have a mind?”
“We just tag customers: B movie, Friday night, first week, ..”
“First week?”
“Like ‘I want to see the movie in the first week after release.'”

If I would go to  this specific cinema, all my actions are recorded.
Big Buyer is being watched too. This sounds creepy. This is my alarm bell as a tester.

My simple question is:
Is profiling allowed?
More accurately, is profiling of European citizens allowed for this cinema web site according to General Data Protection Regulation?

What makes someone a European citizen?

sketchnote with cradle, parents passport and database

Obvious candidates are:  parents, place of birth, passports.  I just stick to Citizenship Administration. I found this one while doodling in my head.

Let me give you a royal example. The Dutch queen has the Dutch nationality, but had Argentine parents and was born in Argentina.

Let me show some graphs:

  • European Union
  • People with no nationality
  • People with 1 nationality
  • People with 2 nationalities

I could make these 2D graphs:

One chart of part of Europe and three coloured graphs about number of nationalities

I could try to stack them and squeeze them afterwards:

One more try:

3D graph made of a chart of a piece of Europe and pieces of sticky notes depicting the number of nationalities

So the best way to define an European citizen is that she or he is registered as an EU citizen in a Citizenship Administration in the EU. Now comes the difficult part: as a web site owner I have no access to this administration. Well. That is a good one.

How can I determine whether an European citizen is in my database?
In most cases I don’t. Because nationality or EU citizenship is not always registered.

“Is an address not sufficient?”
“What about An American in Paris?”
“Okay, email address.”
“What about american@home-in.nl or william-to-be-married@my-awesome-wedding.com?”
“The nationality is registered.”
“Good. What about EU citizens with two nationalities? ”

Looking at the context: if no nationality or EU citizenship has been registered, then I would suggest to look at GDPR. Otherwise definitely use it.

But this is a premature advice. This is a warning. Please read on.

Finding GDPR

If there is one thing I hate about learning, it is memorising information for the sole purpose of memory. I like to have some fun in a good sense of humour.

Here’s where deliberate practice comes in.
Determine a strange situation and look it up.

On my search for the official GDPR document I quickly determined that my target was:
Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation)
Yes, it takes some time to read it.
And a natural person is human being. Like you and me.

I am well aware that English is not everyone’s native language. Now the EU has this little nice webpage with links to GDPR in your favourite language. Hopefully.
No Chinese, but maybe French?

Profiling and data subjects

Profiling can take place after informing the data subject, who has agreed to these terms for data processing. [GDPR 32, 42]
That is a lot of info.

Let’s go a step back to nationality. I warned you for this.
I am not familiar with the American laws. Remember I am not a legal expert.
Suppose profiling of natural persons is legal according to the American law. For example ‘s sake.

Take a case of an American woman who starts buying action movie tickets. My guess is that her new boyfriend is lucky. Piece of case.

It is very easy to make a profile of her boyfriend. Now this lucky guy happens to be British. And has some royal blood. It rhymes on What?!.

There is still no problem, because it cannot be traced back to some palace. Unless I would couple the data with the email address of a fortunate American actress. Oops intended.

Chain of Gift

The American woman is a data subject. All kind of data is collected, but there is an unpleasant side effect: her boyfriend or fiancee also ended up as a data subject. I doubt whether he would have given any permission. No thank you.

Actrice gives something to a prince.

The Chain of Gift leads to interesting doodles. In orange is the American woman and in blue an European Citizen wearing something called a crown.

Quick explanation for the colours: the European flag is a blue flag with yellow stars. So the EU citizen is blue. For the American woman the colours white and red remain. Somehow these are not appropriate. So I chose orange.

So there is a difference between buyer and user. A man can buy movie tickets and give them to his children. ‘Finding Marlin’ and ‘Monsters Unlimited’ seem quite innocent pieces of data to share.

Dad gives movie tickets to children.

Is it possible to determine the birthdays of the children just based on his cinema visits?
Not based on the movie titles. There is a better chance looking at the number of bought children tickets.

“When are we going to the cinema with my friends?”
“What do you think?”
“On my birthday?”
“Good girl.”
[Big smile]

Birhday party

Another interesting case: a man who buys gifts for his  grandchildren. Depending on the gifts I could guess gender, age, and hobbies. If those grandchildren live in the EU, you might have a major problem.

Man gives gift to daughter, who gives it to her children.

With a low number of children per family it is relatively easy to make a family tree.
I can guess that princess cookies are for 5 year old grand granddaughter and that superhero suit with XS size is for …
You get my points.

My best guess is to make a GDPR compliant approach for my whole customer base. There is no way to determine which European people you are profiling.

Permission granted
Scenario 1
Suppose I am in the living room and one of my kids tries to sneak out of the room. I look in the right direction and get eye contact. The door is opened and closed.

A few days later a man is at my front door with a box of 20 tablets. You know those fancy computer things.
The name of my kid is on the box. O oo O.

Scenario 2
Suppose I am in the living room and one of my kids tries to sneak out of the room. I ask:
“What are you up to?”
“I gonna hack. You don’t mind?”
“Yes, but”
The door is opened and closed.

A few days later a man is at my front door with a box of 20 tablets. The name of my kid is on the box.
“Where can I place the other 500 boxes in my truck?”

Scenario 3
Suppose I am in the living room and one of my kids tries to sneak out of the room. I ask:
“What are you up to?”
“Just read this legal document and you will be just fine.”
“It has more than 10 pages.”
“Can I go now?”
“Okay.”
The door is opened and closed.

A few days later a man is at my front door with a box of tablets. The name of my kid is on the box.
“There are three extra trucks coming with tablets. Where can we unload the four trucks?”

Let me finish the three scenarios at the same time.

A box, one truck and a group of 4 trucks on the way to a finish

“Excuse me, I have to call someone.
Would you please wait outside?”
I close the door and the mobile phone is in my left hand instantly. My kid picks up the phone right away.
“A package arrived for you.”
“The tablet arrived?”
“You can better say: ‘Tablets.’”
“Huh, those are the most expensive tablets on the world. They cost a fortune.”
“That’s why I am calling you. How can you afford these things?”

“You know dad, I needed some purpose in a life.”
“Yes?”
“So I learned to hack.”
“O no.”
“It’s worse.”
“Huh?”
“Legal hackers don’t get paid much. I had my eyes on this tablet. So I said: ‘You pay me in Those Tablets.’
If I got one extra, I could always give it to my Best Friend.”
You’ve got a friend in me.

Websites sometimes are like kids. Scenario 1 would look like:
A window where no permission is asked but just taken
No permission is asked, just taken.

Scenario 2 would lead to the following picture:
A window with a default permission for profiling
A very fast designer filled in a preference.

Scenario 3:
A window with unreadable text with a request to accept these conditions
O yeah. The legal stuff one.
At least the checkbox for the conditions has not been filled. But I cannot install the program, unless I agree with them. Hmm.

GDPR forbids all these three options. They lack the support for the user who wants to protect her or his privacy. Website 1 must use transparency, website 2 a default for no profiling. And finally website 3 must use concise and plain language. [GDPR 32]

Thanks for jumping in

For the interested British reader this is not about politics. It is about testing software so that it complies with the General Data Privacy Regulation or GDPR in May 2018. Déjà vu.

There might be readers in my audience who had another association with May 2018. I know that Harry is a major export product for the UK. And I am not writing about the scarred man who has been featured in a lot of books, movies and a theme park.

Some people are more interested in an upcoming royal wedding of Harry. That might have some impact on your online Harry product web shop. For the people interested in performance tests here are some nice blog posts about performance test and Q&A. From yours Mindfully.

Some research notes

A lot of you who are reading this can still follow me. What you actually missed, is my nonlinear search. For the answer on my question: Is profiling of an EU citizen allowed according to GDPR?

The first thing I did was to download all relevant legislation. With a search engine a legal document could easily be found. Then my inner critic voiced his concerns: where are you basing this blog post on?

What I needed, were traceable sources for my research. The more EU the better. Again I am not writing about politics.
I found some links to some non EU websites. But my main target was the GDPR on an official EU website. This took me some browsing. At last I downloaded the wanted document and saw no differences with the other document on first sight.

I took no risk and started to use the official document as main source for this blog post. There was one big but. BUT the document was a pdf. This format is widely supported by all kinds of apps, but not search friendly. A search takes a while on my smartphone.

I converted the document to epub. Now I had a significant win in time. There was no more interruption in my flow of thoughts.

Let them flow.
[On the melody of Let it go.]

So I sought on the word child and hit my next obstacle: the word article. Now are articles quite common in laws, but to my dismay I had not encountered this word before.

I did another search: article. My references to this document were obviously wrong. So I was referring to numbers between parentheses. I switched back to the pdf document to find exact starting point of the first article. It was roughly at the same spot: 38.6 % of the document. Apparently I was referring to some notes in the introduction. And that is not a problem. I think.

Kids, definitions and laws

Of course there are some exceptions. And exceptions on exceptions. This is a great playground for testers. For sure. For ever.
Because people tend to change their minds. This is my most political statement BTW.

Writing about kids reminds me about the definitions debates which pop up every now and then.
“Children have special protection.”
“What do you mean?”
“You need the permission or consent of the people who take care of the child.” [GDPR 38, article 8]

“And the exceptions are…”
“services for prevention and counseling. In these cases you need consent of the child after asking it in a way easily understandable for child. It is not about child proof but about child friendly.”
“What is a child according to GDPR?”
“A person who is not older than 16 years.” [GDPR Article 8]
“No exception?”
“Of course. Glad you asked. Some national laws can set the limit on 13 years.” [GDPR Article 8]

The first time I read about laws. I thought about stacking them like this.

national privacy law stacked on GDPR

A few weeks later I came up with this.

A pyramid with the following layers from the bottom up; Human rights, GDPR, National privacy law, Region law, and Place law

Yes, another test pyramid.
Why? Because the lower the law, the bigger the impact of the law.
And this model is dead wrong.
Small reminder: it is my model, which is wrong.
Next is my proof.

Let me focus on two layers of this pyramid: GDPR and a national privacy law. If I am a judge judging about a privacy case in Belgium, this is my route: GDPR, Belgian privacy law.
Sign with GDPR pointing pointing to sign with Belgian Privcay Law

Time to add some complexity. You know exception on exception. I have to judge a person with two nationalities.

Sign with GDPR pointing to signs with Belgian Privcay Law and Spanish privacy lawas pointing in the same direction

This is my route: GDPR, Belgian privacy law. and Spanish Privacy law.
I am really lucky. Both laws lead to the same judgement.
Now people will say:
“Hey. I can still use the pyramid?”
“I can make it a camel case”
[Pun intended]
GDPR block with two smalls blocks on top: Belgian privacy law and Spanish Privacy Law

“What about this?”
Sign with GDPR pointing to signs with Belgian Privcay Law and Spanish privacy lawas pointing in the different directions

Summarised: the test pyramid uses impact instead of direction, which is rather complicating things.

Finders fixers

The one, who finds a problem, solves it. This is common practice in my DevOps team. I made a model for testing purposes and found a fault in it, so I have to correct it. Fair enough.

When I was looking for the best law to apply, I thought about the strongest law. Something with the most articles and most severe penalties.

I looked on the internet and found a page in Wikipedia about Conflict of laws. My children are quite sceptical about Wikipedia. “My teacher told me that you cannot trust Wikipedia, because everyone can edit the page.”

A flag, a house, and an arrow pointing to a big dot

Anyways, the following laws seem proper candidates: the law of the country where you live or the law of one of the nationalities or the proper law.
So my mental picture of the signs is the right one. Sign intended.

Writing about signs. I could make a model like this:

A sign which points to 2 signs, which in turn point to 2 signgs
But this model is also too simple. The Benelux, a union of 3 countries, is more complex than this model. The Netherlands is part of the Benelux and has 12 regions. It is difficult to show this in a 2D figure.

A few sticky notes, which hold smaller sticky notes, which in turn hold smaller sticky notes.

But frankly this is even for me confusing. So I rebuilt this 3D by using sticky notes with blue lines:

Sticky notes with 3 blue vertical lines on them

Then I put a sticky note with curly red lines to one sticky:

Sticky notes with verticla blue lines and one has a ticky note with red curly lines.

An then I connect some very small sticky notes with a single orange lines to the last attaches sticky note:

Sticky notes with verticla blue lines and one has a ticky note with red curly lines, which have sticky notes on it with orange line

This model gives me a more appropiate way to handle the laws.

Also on Wikipedia there is a page which described how to determine the right law.  There is basically a set of rules which a judge must follow.

And yes, I do mind the warnings of my kids and their teachers. Kids are like websites: sometimes I cannot ignore them.

If your company is GDPR compliant, then there is no time to rest. You still have to browse through the national laws. [GDPR 8]

This might sound complicated. Let’s take a huge example: the United States of America. If you live in Florida, you have to stick to the laws which are used for all states and the Florida State Law.

What now?

So have a chat about GDPR with the people from the legal department. They can become your best friends in the coming months. And beyond.

To boldly go where no techie has gone before.

Sound check (and other interesting things in other backyards)

Xoun is a strange brand name to pronounce. The question is, whether this sounds right to shopping people. If you turn the picture upside down, you will read a known brand name in the Netherlands. (Which I associate with a mug with welcome warm soup after hours of sailing on the lakes in Friesland.) By taking a different view some things might need more attention than you might expect. In this article I will tell about three situations, in which non IT related information can be helpful for an IT engineer.

Granting a small favour

In the nineties my customer planned in a special activity to introduce internet to his employees. So I ended up talking with a woman from the legal department. She stated, that shipping information should always be mentioned. It would save her department and company a lot of time and money.

A few weeks later it was time for my courtesy call. I called the lady from the legal department. After a short introduction I came to the point: “I just discovered, that your company is selling products on the internet. I could not find the shipping information.” A silence followed, so I had to repeat the message. A muffled “Thank you” followed. A few days later the web shop was off line.

In case of surprise

A special meeting was planned and the project manager was constantly talking about Rbbit. After a while I figured out, that the Rbbit was not a nice white fluffy animal appearing in the magician’s hat, but a Big Bug in the software system. “Two weeks ago we had a Rbbit. Last week we had a Rbbit. What do you expect for next week?” I answered, that another Big Bug would show up. “What are we going to do?”. I spoke up again: “I would set up an emergency procedure.” The project manager was not pleased with the answer: “Do you expect, that I will restore the complete database?”

“If wrong information is sent to the customers, then a new mail must be sent to them, that they should ignore the information in the sent mail. You could also add information, when the right information will be sent. The next step is to investigate and solve the problem.” The project manager finally agreed: he needed phone numbers of people in the operations department and operational measures.

What’s it in for them?

As a software tester it is very tempting to use different plug ins in your browser to analyse web sites. During one of my trials I encountered a tool, which provided me much information. I did not understand, why the tool was given away for free. The web site for the plug in tool was basically stressing the benefits. At that moment I was doubtful, whether I had installed malware.

After more extensive searches on the web I discovered a related business web site, which offered information about websites. This information was gathered by users using the above mentioned plug in. So the business model was as follows: determine, which information is useful for IT people. Provide a free tool for collecting information and sell the gathered information with a nice profit.