Beware of GDPR Side Effects When Canceling or Changing Cert Account Info!

Exercise caution when making changes to an online account associated with certification.

When I saw the title of a new Microsoft Learning blog post recently, my initial reaction was, "Ho-hum. How exciting can this be?" That post is titled How GDPR Impacts Your Certification Data. As it turns out, the impact could be both major and negative. Not "ho-hum" at all, as it turns out!

Here are some choice snippets from that blog post, well worth pondering and considering if you have a Microsoft account and hold any Microsoft certifications. I'd be inclined to ponder the implications with other certification sponsors, too, and to ask them pointedly and directly if they are following the same approach, too.

Remember: The cert info you could lose might be your own! All three of the following items are quoted verbatim (emphasis is Microsoft's, not mine):

Because of GDPR, if you choose to close your Microsoft account, we must permanently delete all information and data that is associated with that account, including all certifications, exams, and/or badges. When this occurs, you'll lose access to all Microsoft certifications that you have earned, exams you have passed, and the associated transcript.

If you're not sure what Microsoft Certification data is linked to the account that you want to delete or if you would like to transfer your Certification data to another account before closing the one that you want to delete, contact your Regional Service Center.

Because choosing to delete your Microsoft account has implications beyond what you may realize, we wanted to be sure you clearly understood what this decision means. We will NOT be able to recover this information if you change your mind after you request that the account be closed; the deletion process is irreversible.

OK, let's digest this now, shall we? This means that closing an account can result in the permanent loss of all certification related records including transcripts and test scores, plus badges and certifications earned. Furthermore, this process is irreversible. Once lost, expunged data cannot be recovered.

Please, please, please keep this in mind if you need to make changes to your Microsoft account(s). Think ahead, and plan carefully, if you must close a Microsoft account.

What Does This Mean for Certs from Other Sponsors or Organizations?

I think it means you must ask them what happens to cert info before you close any accounts with any organization that holds information related to your certifications, badges, and other professional accomplishments. Don't close any accounts with those organizations until you're darn sure your cert information won't be lost or otherwise affected by such changes.

Given some knowledge of GDPR requirements, I'd be surprised if the same thing isn't true for most of the certification sponsors on the cert landscape. Thus, a step in closing any account associated with such organizations should be first to create a new account and then to transfer all your cert data over to that account.

You should probably also double-check the new account to make sure that your cert (or related) info is available through that new account. Only then can you close the old one. You've been warned! Please don't forget.

Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran who's worked as a software developer, technical marketer, consultant, author, and researcher. Author of many books and articles, Ed also writes on certification topics for Tech Target, ComputerWorld and Win10.Guru. Check out his website at, where he also blogs daily on Windows 10 and 11 topics.