Some small changes to StP for the new GDPR laws in the EU (1 Viewer)

Matt Derrick

Permanent Wanderer
Staff member
Aug 4, 2006
Austin, TX
So this announcement is to let the community know about a few small changes to StP that will be taking place over the next few days in order to comply with the newly passed GDPR rules passed in Europe. It's a complicated subject, but the short version is that Europe passed a few laws concerning internet privacy that requires websites that have users registering from that region to provide the ability to delete and anonymize accounts as well as clearly state privacy policies; lastly new users need to explicitly agree to these policies when registering an account.

StP already conforms to most of these rules already, except from now on when people delete their account, their username will be removed and replaced with something like 'deleted user'. this will not affect the content they posted. The text below is copied from the Xenforo software (our forum software) website which explains it in detail.

Since I am specifically interested in expanding our user base in the EU I am making these (small) changes just to make sure these users aren't affected or lose access to StP. If you live outside the EU, very little of this is going to affect you in any way.

As always, if you have any questions, let me know!


The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is soon upon us. But, what is it? Does it apply to your site? How can XenForo help you with compliance in the key areas of the regulation? This "Have you seen" thread will aim to clear up some of these questions, and give you a preview of what is coming up in XenForo 1.5.20 and XenForo 2.0.6.

What is the GDPR?
The GDPR is a European Union (EU) regulation that has been designed to protect the data and privacy of EU residents. It strengthens and replaces existing data protection acts/directives and becomes enforceable from 25th May 2018. The primary aim is to give control to EU residents over their personal data and unify regulation within the EU.

But I'm not an EU resident...
That may be true, but with over half a billion residents in 28 member states, it's a fairly reasonable expectation that at some point you will have an EU resident register on your forum and they will indeed be protected by this regulation and breaches of the regulation can bring penalties and fines against you, whether you're an EU resident, or not. Even so, data protection and privacy will be important to every one of your members, regardless of their country of origin.

How can we help?
Depending on your interpretation of the guidelines and how you specifically use your member's data, there isn't much more to add to help you comply with these regulations. That said, this would be a pretty boring post without some new things to show you so we will explain some of the new features below and how they help you, as a data controller, to comply with the regulations.

Individual rights

Right to erasure
ICO said:
Under Article 17 of the GDPR individuals have the right to have personal data erased. This is also known as the ‘right to be forgotten’. The right is not absolute and only applies in certain circumstances.
Unfortunately, erasure does not relate to a 1980s pop duo but instead it relates to the inevitability that at some point, one of your members may want to leave your forum and in doing so, may want to have their personal data removed. This is also known as the "right to be forgotten".

Of course XenForo has always allowed you to delete members via the Admin CP, and this approach is still recommended, but this has traditionally left their content attributed to them. You have always been able to workaround this by changing the user's name prior to deleting the user. Although we're not at this stage looking to totally remove the user's content, we are making it easier to anonymise a deleted user's content.


When deleting a user, you will now be given the option to just delete them (as now) or change their name before deleting them. You can choose the pre-defined text (which is the content of the deleted_member phrase in your language, followed by their user_id) or change it manually to whatever name you prefer.

Right to data portability
ICO said:
The right to data portability gives individuals the right to receive personal data they have provided to a controller in a structured, commonly used and machine readable format. It also gives them the right to request that a controller transmits this data directly to another controller.
Technically, under certain laws in certain countries, the right for a user to request a copy of any personal information held by a data controller has always been necessary. The main difference now is that the information should be provided to the data subject in a machine readable format.

Starting with the next release, it will be possible for admins to generate an XML file containing a user's personal information, including those entered in custom user fields. The XML file produced can be imported into any other XF1 or XF2 forum running an appropriate version.

Right to be informed
ICO said:
  • You must provide individuals with information including: your purposes for processing their personal data, your retention periods for that personal data, and who it will be shared with. We call this ‘privacy information’.
  • You must provide privacy information to individuals at the time you collect their personal data from them.
  • You must regularly review, and where necessary, update your privacy information. You must bring any new uses of an individual’s personal data to their attention before you start the processing.
XenForo already has functionality to enable you to edit your terms and rules, provides you with tools for you to create a privacy policy (help pages, page nodes) and present that information when they are registering. In the next releases we are somewhat expanding these features.

The first step is to start providing a default privacy policy, via a help page, similar to how we also provide a default terms and rules page. If you already have a privacy policy URL, we will continue to link to this. If you do not, then we will start displaying the new default policy link in the appropriate places. After upgrading, if you do not want or need a privacy policy then you can disable it in options.

Lawful basis for processing

ICO said:
  • Consent means offering individuals real choice and control. Genuine consent should put individuals in charge, build trust and engagement, and enhance your reputation.
  • Consent requires a positive opt-in. Don’t use pre-ticked boxes or any other method of default consent.
  • Keep evidence of consent – who, when, how, and what you told people.
On a similar subject to the previous "Right to be informed" section, consent must apply to things such as the privacy policy and terms and rules. In XF2 we already seek this consent if you have a privacy policy or terms and rules URL configured. In XF1, however, we only did this if a terms and rules URL was configured. In XF2, there was no checkbox to consent to these, but in XF1 there was.

There are obvious inconsistencies there, so in the next releases we have taken a more consistent approach during registration:


We already make it possible for a user to opt-in to or opt-out of receiving site emails using the "Receive site mailings" option under "Preferences", which can of course be set or un-set by default for new users under Options > User registration. That preference remains, though we have changed its name slightly. We've also added a new admin option (again, under "User registration") to enable you to show that preference on registration:


To enable you to keep evidence of consent, we will log the consent date for acceptance of the terms and rules and privacy policy in the "User change log". We will also log if a user chooses explicitly opt in to receiving emails.

In the current version, user change logs are only kept for a period of 60 days (by default) so we have made changes here to ensure that certain change logs are "protected". These protected entries are never pruned and they are displayed differently in the log (denoted by the left feature border):


In these releases, we are also making it possible to ask users to re-accept terms and rules or privacy policies. Because we provide the ability to use any URL as your terms or privacy policy, and because the default policies are editable by changing phrases or templates, the most explicit approach to triggering re-acceptance is having a specific page for each under Communication > Help in the Admin CP:



Once you click "Save" any users will be prompted to re-accept the respective policy. They will not be able to continue using the site until they do. If you use the default page then the policy will be displayed on the page:


ICO said:
The rules on cookies are in regulation 6. The basic rule is that you must:
  • tell people the cookies are there;
  • explain what the cookies are doing and why; and
  • get the person’s consent to store a cookie on their device.
We have, for many years, shown a notice to users on their first visit explaining that cookies will be set. This notice was only shown on the very first page load before it disappeared. This should be fine, in most cases, though we've decided to make some improvements for the next release to make the usage of cookies more clear, and to require the notice to be dismissed:


Interestingly, this notice doesn't appear as a block notice at the top of the page, and it doesn't appear in the bottom right corner as a floating notice. Instead, we've created an entirely new position called "Fixed". This notice position is actually fixed at the very bottom of the page and full width (similar to the inline mod bar). You can even use this position for any notice you create.

The default help page for cookies has been expanded with more detailed information about what cookies are set, and why.

And that brings us to the end of this GDPR-centric Have you seen thread!


so yeah, that's the gist of it. the TL;DR version is that from now on, users that delete their account will no longer have their user name associated with their old content. instead, it will say 'deleted user'.
We sell all kinds of other stuff in our Etsy store!


Apr 6, 2013
so yeah, that's the gist of it. the TL;DR version is that from now on, users that delete their account will no longer have their user name associated with their old content. instead, it will say 'deleted user'.

okay... sorry it's just a lot of info... but my question is... will that apply to all users (the "deleted user" title) or just users from the EU??

Matt Derrick

Permanent Wanderer
Staff member
Aug 4, 2006
Austin, TX
okay... sorry it's just a lot of info... but my question is... will that apply to all users (the "deleted user" title) or just users from the EU??

It will apply to all deleted users from this day going forward (not accounts that were deleted before today).

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