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June 4, 2018

EU’s new data protection law being used as bedtime story by meditation app

by John_A

The European Union’s (EU) new data protection and digital privacy rules landed recently in the form of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), forcing online firms to take greater care in how they gather and use people’s data.

Clearly not one to miss a trick, meditation app Calm has added a reading of the 57,509-word document to its collection of Sleep Stories, confident in the belief that a brief listen to it will be enough to cure even the most wide-eyed of insomniacs.

“New laws aren’t meant to be exciting, but this one could sedate a buffalo,” Calm wrote in a recent blog post about GDPR.

Current Sleep Stories offered by Calm include Blue Gold, The Seventeenth Princess, and The Secret Lagoon narrated by a range of actors, among them Stephen Fry. For the GDPR document, it turned to Peter Jefferson, a former announcer who made a name for himself as the reader of the BBC’s Shipping Forecast, a long-running nightly broadcast detailing sea conditions around the British Isles which is famed for its relaxing theme tune and the soothing tones of those who read it.

“Jefferson’s voice and skill helped the Shipping Forecast to become known … as Britain’s unofficial national lullaby and an accidental natural sleep aid of rare potency,” Calm noted in its blog post.

The company has called the latest addition to its Sleep Stories collection Once Upon a GDPR, and invites listeners to simply “lie back, wind down, and drift off to … the sound of the new legal regulation.”

For reasons unknown — perhaps Jefferson couldn’t make it to the end without dozing off — Calm has declined to include the entirety of the 209-page document in Once Upon a GDPR. Instead, the announcer says he hopes to offer “a taste of it by reading a lengthy extract from the 107-page introduction, and then, if you’re still awake, one or two of the more relaxing articles that make up the real heart of the document.” The entire recording lasts 40 minutes, by which time you should be well and truly conked.

Calm is available for iOS and Android, and offers in-app purchases.

“Insomnia is a modern epidemic,” says Alex Tew, co-founder of Calm. “The search for a cure is a modern Holy Grail. GDPR may be our new best hope.”

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