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  • Samuel Brunt, PR Manager

What is GDPR and what does it mean for your company?



What is GDPR?

With the advent of Big Data, and the ability for brands and organisations to create targeted and personalised products and services, based on your personal data; there has been an ever-growing need for regulation in regard to the use of this information. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), is an extension of Data Protection Regulation that is already in place, coming into force on the 25th May 2018. It is designed to give power over personal information, back to the consumer.


Why is this relevant?

Whilst this is an EU law and the UK is set to leave the union, GDPR still affects both UK and global businesses. Any firms that hold information on customers, prospects or employees based within the EU need to prepare to be compliant with the new laws. It is also looking increasingly likely that the UK will retain GDPR, or some form of the regulation, once it leaves the EU. Once the laws come into place, businesses that are not compliant can receive fines of up to €20million or 4% of their global, annual turnover (whichever is greater).


So… What are the rules?

So, with the sound of that €20million fine still ringing in your ears, we will now take a look at the ins and outs of GDPR. The rules are very complex, but don’t be overwhelmed by them, build the rules into your organisational culture rather than being terrorised by them then they will help you manage data more effectively, internally and externally.

The rules can be seen as following 12 themes as outlined by the ICO.

1. Awareness - You should make sure that decision makers and key people in your organisation are aware that the law is changing to the GDPR. They need to appreciate the impact this is likely to have.


2. Information you hold - You should document what personal data you hold, where it came from and who you share it with. You may need to organise an information audit.


3. Communicating privacy information - You should review your current privacy notices and put a plan in place for making any necessary changes in time for GDPR implementation.


4. Individuals’ rights - You should check your procedures to ensure they cover all the rights individuals have, including how you would delete personal data or provide data electronically and in a commonly used format.


5. Subject access requests - You should update your procedures and plan how you will handle requests within the new timescales and provide any additional information.


6. Lawful basis for processing personal data - You should identify the lawful basis for your processing activity in the GDPR, document it and update your privacy notice to explain it.


7. Consent - You should review how you seek, record and manage consent and whether you need to make any changes. Refresh existing consents now if they don’t meet the GDPR standard.


8. Children - You should start thinking now about whether you need to put systems in place to verify individuals’ ages and to obtain parental or guardian consent for any data processing activity.


9. Data breaches - You should make sure you have the right procedures in place to detect, report and investigate a personal data breach.


10. Data Protection by Design and Data Protection Impact Assessments - You should familiarise yourself now with the ICO’s code of practice on Privacy Impact Assessments as well as the latest guidance from the Article 29 Working Party, and work out how and when to implement them in your organisation.


11. Data Protection Officers - You should designate someone to take responsibility for data protection compliance and assess where this role will sit within your organisation’s structure and governance arrangements. You should consider whether you are required to formally designate a Data Protection Officer.


12. International - If your organisation operates in more than one EU member state (ie you carry out cross-border processing), you should determine your lead data protection supervisory authority. Article 29 Working Party guidelines will help you do this.



Whilst it is certain that GDPR will have a huge effect on businesses globally, forcing large scale change to way businesses process their data, it isn’t something that businesses need to necessarily be too wary of. By having a strong and clear approach to GDPR businesses can show their customers that they are giving them back control of their own personal data. This is something that consumers will respond positively to and a well-managed GDPR policy can help to strengthen a business.


(Reference: Information Commissioner’s Office - https://ico.org.uk/media/1624219/preparing-for-the-gdpr-12-steps.pdf)


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