Did a public data privacy warning kill a French startup?

Fidzup co-founder and CEO Olivier Magnan-Saurin says the nation's data watchdog 'killed us'

Digital marketing company Fidzup was one of four “drive-to-store” French startups that faced a wave of regulations after Europe began applying its updated data protection framework in May 2018.

Last month, in a final Medium post, co-founder and CEO Olivier Magnan-Saurin revealed that his company had hit the deadpool.

He put the blame for the demise of his startup squarely on the local data watchdog, writing unequivocally that “the CNIL [The Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés] killed us.”

But his arguments are about how France’s federal agency in charge of enforcing data privacy laws went about enforcing the pan-EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — not with the core principles of the legislation itself, which seeks to ensure that personal data is gathered fairly and protected properly. It also gives users rights over their data, such as letting them view a copy of information held on them or have it deleted or corrected.

“GDPR the law is good,” Magnan-Saurin tells us. “It’s going in the right direction. We didn’t run out of business because of GDPR. And I don’t argue with the things that the CNIL asked us to change for the consent collection and everything — we had to do that and that’s perfectly normal. But in the process itself — there is a lot to say.”

Previously, we talked to Fidzup (in December 2018) when Magnan-Saurin was feeling optimistic, having come through a multi-month process of fixing how the company collected consents from mobile users for the purpose of tracking their location to target them with ads and carry out conversion tracking.

At that point Fidzup had come up with a consent management platform (CMP) that met CNIL requirements and was evaluating the idea of turning its CMP into an additional business opportunity to help others get their consents in order.