So, whether you’re just starting out or looking to update your current compliance processes, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and tools you need to ensure your business is GDPR compliant.
What is GDPR?
GDPR is a regulation that was adopted by the EU in 2016 and became enforceable in 2018. Its primary objective is to strengthen the protection of the personal data of EU residents and to harmonize data protection laws across the EU. GDPR replaces the outdated Data Protection Directive from 1995 and introduces several new and enhanced data protection principles and requirements.
Why does GDPR matter for businesses?
GDPR matters for businesses that collect or process the personal data of EU residents because it imposes significant obligations and liabilities on them. If a business fails to comply with GDPR, it may face severe penalties, such as fines of up to €20 million or 4% of its global annual revenue, whichever is higher. In addition, non-compliance with GDPR can damage a business’s reputation, erode customer trust, and undermine its competitive advantage.
Organizations that collect and process personal data must also provide individuals with clear and transparent information about how their data will be used. This information should be provided in a concise, easy-to-understand format, and should be easily accessible.
The scope and objectives of GDPR
The objectives of GDPR are to:
- Strengthen the rights of data subjects, such as the right to access, rectify, erase, and object to their personal data
- Ensure that personal data is processed lawfully, fairly, and transparently
- Enhance the security and confidentiality of personal data through appropriate technical and organizational measures
- Promote accountability and responsibility of data controllers and processors through documentation, record-keeping, and risk assessments
- Facilitate cross-border data transfers within the EU and to third countries with adequate levels of data protection
- Establish a harmonized and effective enforcement regime across the EU through cooperation and consistency among national data protection authorities
- The right to access their personal data and obtain information about its processing
- The right to rectify inaccurate or incomplete personal data
- The right to erasure or “right to be forgotten” in certain circumstances
- The right to object to the processing of their personal data for certain reasons, such as direct marketing or profiling
- The right to restrict the processing of their personal data in certain circumstances
- The right to data portability, which allows them to receive their personal data in a structured, commonly used, and machine-readable format and to transmit it to another controller without hindrance
Businesses need to have appropriate policies, procedures, and mechanisms in place to enable data subjects to exercise these rights effectively and promptly.
The lawful basis for processing
GDPR requires businesses to have a lawful basis for processing personal data. The lawful basis can be one or more of the following:
- Consent: the data subject has given explicit and informed consent to the processing of their personal data for a specific purpose
- Contract: the processing is necessary for the performance of a contract with the data subject or for pre-contractual steps taken at their request
- Legal obligation: the processing is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation to which the data controller is subject
- Vital interests: the processing is necessary to protect the vital interests of the data subject or another natural person
- Public task: the processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the data controller
- Legitimate interests: the processing is necessary for the legitimate interests pursued by the data controller or a third party, except where such interests are overridden by fundamental rights and freedoms.
Businesses need to determine and document their lawful basis for processing personal data and ensure that it is compatible with the purpose for which the data was collected.
The data controller’s and processor’s obligations
GDPR imposes several obligations on data controllers and processors. These include:
- Transparency: data controllers need to provide data subjects with clear and concise information about the processing of their personal data, including the identity and contact details of the data controller, the purposes of the processing, the categories of personal data processed, the recipients or categories of recipients of the personal data, the retention period, and the data subject’s rights.
- Security: data controllers and processors need to implement appropriate technical and organizational measures to ensure the security of personal data, such as encryption, pseudonymization, access controls, and monitoring.
- Accountability: data controllers need to maintain records of their processing activities and be able to demonstrate compliance with GDPR requirements. They also need to appoint a data protection officer (DPO) in certain cases, such as where the processing is carried out by a public authority or where the processing involves large-scale processing of special categories of personal data.
- Data protection impact assessment (DPIA): data controllers need to conduct a DPIA where the processing is likely to result in a high risk to the rights and freedoms of data subjects, such as where the processing involves large-scale processing of personal data, systematic monitoring, or processing of special categories of personal data.
- Data breach notification: data controllers need to notify the supervisory authority of any personal data breach without undue delay and, where feasible, no later than 72 hours after becoming aware of it. They also need to notify data subjects of the breach where their rights could be violated.
Cross-border data transfers
GDPR prohibits the transfer of personal data to countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA) unless the country has been deemed to have an adequate level of data protection by the European Commission or appropriate safeguards have been put in place, such as standard contractual clauses or binding corporate rules. Businesses need to ensure that they comply with these requirements when transferring personal data outside the EEA.
To help businesses comply with GDPR, here is a checklist of key steps they should take:
- Identify and document personal data: Identify the personal data your business processes, where it comes from, and who it is shared with. Document this information in a data map or inventory.
- Review and update privacy notices: Review and update your privacy notices to ensure that they provide clear and concise information about your processing activities, including the purposes, legal basis, and data subject’s rights. Make sure that your privacy notices are easily accessible and prominently displayed.
- Obtain lawful basis for processing: Determine and document your lawful basis for processing personal data. Ensure that it is compatible with the purpose for which the data was collected and that you have obtained explicit and informed consent where necessary.
- Implement appropriate security measures: Implement appropriate technical and organizational measures to ensure the security of personal data, such as encryption, pseudonymization, access controls, and monitoring.
- Appoint a data protection officer (DPO): Appoint a DPO if your processing activities involve large-scale processing of special categories of personal data, or if you are a public authority or body.
- Conduct data protection impact assessments (DPIAs): Conduct a DPIA where the processing is likely to result in a high risk to the rights and freedoms of data subjects.
- Maintain records of processing activities: Maintain records of your processing activities, including the purposes of the processing, the categories of personal data processed, and the recipients or categories of recipients of the personal data.
- Implement data subject rights: Implement appropriate policies, procedures, and mechanisms to enable data subjects to exercise their rights effectively and promptly.
- Respond to data breaches: Implement appropriate procedures to detect, report, and investigate personal data breaches. Notify the supervisory authority of any personal data breach without undue delay and, where feasible, no later than 72 hours after becoming aware of it.
- Ensure compliance by third-party processors: Ensure that any third-party processors you use to process personal data on your behalf comply with GDPR requirements.
By following this checklist, businesses can ensure that they have taken the necessary steps to comply with GDPR and protect the personal data of their customers and employees.
How Flash4Tech Can Help
- Conduct a GDPR readiness assessment to identify areas of non-compliance and develop a plan to address them.
- Develop and implement policies and procedures to comply with GDPR requirements, such as privacy notices, DPIAs, and breach notification procedures.
- Provide ongoing support and guidance to ensure that you remain compliant with GDPR as your business evolves.
GDPR is a comprehensive and complex regulation that sets a high standard for data protection and privacy. Businesses need to ensure that they comply with their requirements to avoid significant fines and reputational damage. By following the key principles and requirements of GDPR and using the GDPR checklist and the services of a cybersecurity company like Flash4Tech, businesses can ensure that they protect the personal data of their customers and employees and build trust and confidence in their brand.