How To Manage WordPress User Data Requests
In this tutorial, you will learn about managing WordPress user data requests.
Refer to the following tutorials if you need help with this section:
GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) requires all businesses to protect the personal data and privacy of EU citizens for transactions that occur within EU member states. Non-compliance with these regulations could cost companies dearly.
Under GDPR rules, your site needs to make sure that your website users can:
- Request access to their personal data (name, email address, comments, or any other data submitted to your website).
- Download and view their personal data (as per Article 15 of GDPR).
- Request that their personal data be removed from your site (as per Article 18 of GDPR).
To ensure that your site complies with these GDPR guidelines, WordPress provides tools that let you manage user requests to export and/or delete their personal data from your website.
You can access these tools by going to the WordPress Tools Menu and selecting one of the following:
Let’s go through these tools.
Export Personal Data
To access this tool, go to Tools > Export Personal Data.
This brings you to the Export Personal Data screen.
If a user requests access to their personal data, simply enter their details into the ‘Username or email address’ field in the Add Data Export Request section and click the Send Request button.
WordPress will send the user an email requesting them to verify and confirm their request.
The request will remain pending until the user has confirmed the email.
Here’s an example of the email WordPress automatically sends to users who request access to their personal data.
When the user clicks on the confirmation link, they will see an acknowledgment screen informing them that a link to download their exported data will be sent once the site administrator processes their request.
Once the user has confirmed, you (or your site administrator) will then be able to view these details and fulfil the user’s request.
Note: You can also send out an export link without waiting for users to click on the confirmation email.
This is useful if, for example, a user contacts you to say they did not receive your email.
To do this, hover over the user’s name in the ‘Requester’ column and click on the Complete request link.
Either of the above methods will send the user an email with a link to download their personal data.
Here’s a sample of the email WordPress will send to the user, with a link to download their personal data export file and a message informing them that for privacy and security reasons, their file will be automatically deleted after a few days.
WordPress also gives you the option to:
- Download and save the user’s personal data.
- Perform bulk actions.
To download and save a user’s personal data:
Hover over the user’s name in the ‘Requester’ column and click on the Download personal data link.
Select a location to download the zip file and click the Save button.
To perform bulk actions:
- Select the user’s name in the ‘Requester’ column.
- Select an option from the Bulk actions drop-down menu:
- Resend confirmation requests
- Mark requests as completed
- Delete requests
- Click the Apply button.
Additionally, keep in mind that there are several GDPR plugins that can help automate this process.
Erase Personal Data
GDPR compliance also requires that site owners comply with a user’s request to delete all personal data store on a site.
This is where the Erase Personal Data tool comes in handy.
To access this tool, go to Tools > Erase Personal Data.
This brings you to the Erase Personal Data screen.
Erasing personal data is like exporting a user’s data.
When users request that their personal data be erased from your site:
Enter their username or email address in the field and click the Send Request button.
Users will be sent an email asking them to verify their request (you can also click on the Complete request link under their name if they haven’t confirmed).
Until users click on the confirmation link sent in the email, their request status is set to Pending.
You can erase the user’s personal data:
- When users confirm their request by clicking on the email confirmation link, or
- By hovering over the user’s name and clicking on the Force erase personal data link.
Congratulations! Now you know how to comply with user requests to export or erase personal data using the tools that WordPress makes available.
Updated: April 9th, 2023