Santa keeps up with the times. An important interview with Chief Elf Bruce

Illustration @_keastie_

It seems like every year something arises which challenges the spirit of Christmas. Most are handled with aplomb by Santa and his magical elves but every now and again something comes along which requires a major change in the way the jolly fellow operates.

Last year the European Union’s new data protection law, the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR, was just such a challenge for the North Pole. While it came into effect for the rest of us on 25 May 2018, Santa was able to negotiate a special dispensation which saw his team given more time to formulate a response and ensure they comply. That deadline has now come due and our own Brendan Richards was able to get in touch with Santa’s Chief Data  Officer, Bruce to see how things are changing for the world’s largest logistics operation.

BR

Gidday Bruce. Thanks for taking the time to chat at this very busy time of year.

Bruce

No problem at all Brendan. How can I help?

BR

Personal data has always been a mainstay of your operations at the North Pole and key to your ability to deliver presents to just over 525,000,000 children around the world in just 22 hours. How has the GDPR affected your approach to personal data?

Bruce

Well first of all, our processes have always been among the most robust in the world – after all, we check our list twice every year for accuracy. Name anyone else who takes things as seriously as that! We’ve also never had a data breach – not once. We are the envy of the data world on that front. That being said, we have had to review things from a compliance perspective. Here at the North Pole, we don’t just want to be doing the right thing. We also want to be seen to be doing the right thing, so we have made a few changes.

BR

What sort of changes are those, Bruce?

Bruce

Mostly, we have had to make it clear what kind of data we collect. Essentially, it amounts to two lists determining whether you have been naughty or nice over the last twelve months and an additional list of personal information that ensures our manufacturing stock meets demand so there are no disappointed children and that the appropriate gifts reach their final destination.

BR

What sort of personal information do you collect?

Bruce

The usual stuff… names, addresses, ages, gender, whether you’ve been bad or good, when you are sleeping and when you’re awake… that sort of thing.

BR

Is that personal information shared with anyone else?

Bruce

Ummm, yes. We do share it with affiliated but independent third parties such as the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny, but I can assure you that it’s never shared with commercial entities or used for commercial purposes. Plus, if you do have an issue regarding your personal data, we have been running compliant representative systems forever. During the holiday season we have representatives everywhere. Our representative will ask your child if they have been naughty or nice and what type of present they want and, as long as the child’s parent or legal guardian is nearby to confirm the data change requests, Santa is happy to update the database.

BR

Sounds good. What about cookies?

Bruce

As dictated by tradition, Santa will eat any that he finds.

BR

So, where does all the data go and how is it stored Bruce?

Bruce

Traditional letters to Santa are received by the Korvatunturi Postal Office in Lapland and digitised by an elite team of specialist Pixel Painters who turn anything into 1s and 0s with a wave of the wrist. Emails and the like are received and stored on our own servers at the North Pole in a sub-atomic realm existing between elementary particles. It’s very effective when it comes to security. You can get a rough idea of how it works by watching Ant-Man and the Wasp.

BR

Riiiight. Certainly didn’t see that coming. Thanks for your time, Bruce.

Interview conducted by Brendan Richards via Skype to the Pole.

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One thought on “Santa keeps up with the times. An important interview with Chief Elf Bruce

  1. Great article Brendan. Glad to see that Bruce is taking personal information security very seriously by checking everything twice.
    Maybe for Xmas 2021 Bruce can give us an update on whether they’re moving away from the use of fossil fuels, such as coal, as the primary present for naughty children?

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