Data protection regulation is about to undergo the most major shakeup in almost 20 years. From May 25th 2018, businesses that operate within the EU will be required to comply with the GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation. The aim of the GDPR is to modernise data protection regulations and introduce policies that are fit for the 21st century. If you run a business, it’s incredibly important that you’re aware of the GDPR, and that you have an understanding of how it will impact you.
What exactly is GDPR?
GDPR is a new framework, which is designed to replace legislation like the UK Data Protection Act. GDPR has been formulated to cope with the demands of the modern day and to provide greater protection for customers and consumers within the European Union. The GDPR was compiled based on four years of research and discussions. A vote to introduce the GDPR was taken in 2016, and the new guidelines will come into play on the 25th May 2018. The GDPR is not a good practice handbook. This is new legislation, which must be adopted by all corporations, organisations and authorities that are either based in the EU or that deal with customer data within the EU. The scope of the GDPR means that your company doesn’t have to be based in the EU to adhere to the framework of the GDPR. If your headquarters are in the US, for example, but you engage in business with customers in the EU, or you handle or monitor data from the EU, you will be required to adopt GDPR legislation.
The GDPR is designed to enhance data protection. It relates to the handling, storage and sharing of personal data. Examples of personal data include:
- Email address
- IP address
- Data related to your geographical location
- Data related to your online behaviour, for example, your browsing history
- Profiling information
The GDPR also insists on more robust controls for sensitive data. Examples of sensitive data include:
- Political views
- Sexual orientation
- Membership of trade unions
- Data related to your health
What does the GDPR mean for your business?
The GDPR is not a scheme you can opt into or out of. From May 25th 2018, you must ensure that your business is GDPR compliant. Failure to do this can result in penalties and fines (fines can be up to 4% of annual turnover or 20 million euros). The aim of the GDPR is to enhance security measures and to improve the ways in which customer data is stored and shared. As a business owner, you must make it your mission to ensure that you’re doing everything by the book when it comes to handling personal data provided by your clients.
The GDPR may affect the way your business goes about collecting and using data. Under new guidelines, companies and organisations must comply with measures that ensure that data is handled lawfully and transparently. If your business is GDPR compliant, you can benefit in many ways, including:
- Increased customer trust
- Enhanced brand image and reputation
- Increased control over customer data
- Improved security measures
- Advantage over rival firms
GDPR best practice guidelines: the dos and don’ts
If you’re not prepared for the GDPR yet, here are some dos and don’ts to point you in the right direction.
- Learn more about the data you handle: it’s essential that you have an accurate interpretation of the data you handle, what you do with it and where it comes from. Conducting a data audit is an excellent way to gather information about the data collection methods you use and highlight any issues that may affect GDPR compliance from May 25th 2018.
- Be prepared to amend and modify your data protection policies: it’s highly likely that your current data protection policies don’t quite match the requirements of the GDPR. To eliminate issues, review your policies, update them and ensure that your new strategy reflects new GDPR measures. If you need to demonstrate consent to gather personal data, for example, update your privacy notice and contact all your customers to alert them to the changes and encourage them to provide consent.
- Provide training for your team: every member of staff you employ should be aware of the GDPR and what it means for your business. Training will ensure that employees understand new data protection regulations.
- Put measures in place to respond to security breaches: if there is an issue that affects compliance, for example, a security breach, it’s essential you have measures in place to respond as quickly as possible and to minimise the impact on your customers and the reputation of the business.
- Consider employing a data protection officer
- Panic: any large-scale change in legislation is likely to cause panic among corporations, but if you follow the guidelines and you understand exactly what the GDPR is, there’s no reason why the transition can’t run smoothly. Training is hugely beneficial for those who are unsure about what the GDPR means for their business, and seeking expert advice is also wise.
- Rely on technology alone: technology plays an important role in modern business, but it cannot ensure GDPR compliance alone. To make sure that your business is ready, you’ll need to use technology, but you must also ensure your employees understand the changes that will come into force and introduce policies and processes that underpin the way you collect, handle and process data.
- Take risks: the GDPR is not an optional framework for businesses and organisations. If you flout the rules, you run the risk of severe penalties, which could cost you 4% of your annual turnover or 20 million euros, depending on which figure is higher.
If you own a business, it’s essential that you’re ready for the introduction of the GDPR. You should be aware of what the GDPR is and how it will impact you going forward. Hopefully, this guide has provided an insight into how new legislation will affect the way you collect and use customer data and given you some tips to help you ensure you’re prepared for the 25th May 2018.