The GDPR: What On Earth Is It And Do You Need To Be Worried?

GDOR and business

If you are the owner of a business or just curious about data security and the protection of your personal data, you might have stumbled across the term GDPR. Business owners definitely need to be aware of what this is and why it’s important. But even if you don’t own a business, the GDPR could affect you as well.

What Exactly Is The GDPR?

GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation. Putting it simply, it’s a new set of laws that are going to change how companies can use data or even gather it. It comes into effect across Europe on 25 May 2018 and is the biggest change for data protection laws in well over twenty years.

Why Is This Happening?

Well, you could argue that it’s not only necessary but rather late. You see, the laws for managing data were actually drawn up in the nineties. You don’t have to be a tech genius to see that data usage and software has changed a lot since then.

With cloud servers that can store massive amounts of data online, digitally. We need new rules in place to protect how it is used and how it is shared. Just think about how much data you use every day on your mobile and computer. In the nineties, storing massive amounts of data required hard drives the size of a house. These days, it can all be handled on the cloud.

These new laws are going to completely alter how businesses and public sector organizations handle information of their client’s clients.

Is GDPR A Massive Change?

Not according to the UK’s Information Commissioner. Elizabeth Denham handles data protection enforcement in the UK. She says that the level of fear being spread to shake up businesses is unwarranted. According to her, the GDPR is not a revolution. However, this hasn’t done much to alleviate worries and fears or business owners not just in the UK but the rest of Europe.

GDPR In More Detail

The GDPR will be used to replace the 1995 data protection directive. This is what we currently use to monitor and regulate data usage by businesses. According to the official website of the GDPR, the purpose is to make sure that data usage is harmonised across Europe. This does provide a range of benefits. For instance, imagine if you owned an international company that decided to set up shop in a European company. Or, perhaps even multiple European companies. It would be helpful to know that data regulation laws were the same across the whole of Europe, wouldn’t it?

It officially arrives on May 25, 2018. So you might want to mark that date on your calendar if you are a business owner. Though, really, you should already have that note. After all, businesses have actually had two years to prepare for the law to come into force and to make sure that they were up to date and compliant.

Wait, Don’t We Already Have Data Protection Laws?

As already mentioned, there are data protection laws already in place. Indeed, some countries, like the countries in the UK, already have laws like the Data Protection Act 1998. Many of the new regulations in the GDPR are present in this old regulation. However, there are also some minor changes, and some European countries have more outdated data protection regulations. Also, even if they are minor changes, it is worth being aware of them. The cost of failing to remain compliant is severe as we’re about to show.

Why Do Business Owners Need To Worry?

If your business isn’t compliant with laws, you will face harsh penalties. You could be forced to pay up two percent of your worldwide turnover or ten million euros. Nope, you don’t get to choose which one. To make matters even worse, you’ll need to cough up whichever is higher. This shows how seriously the EU is now taking data protection. That shouldn’t be particularly surprising. After all, over the last couple of years, we have seen a string of issues with data security by big businesses.

Who Else Will It Impact?

It’s not just business owners who need to be aware of the changes that the GDPR will bring. Anyone thinking about setting up a startup must be aware of this as well. Customers might want to familiarise themselves with it, so they know exactly what their rights are. While public authorities are also going to face the burn of the new regulations. Yes, councils, police, and hospitals will all need to make sure that they are GDPR compliant. Finally, employees could also be held accountable for breaches that impact the security of data or break the new laws that apply to data gathering.

What’s Changing?

A lot is the short answer to that question. In fact, despite experts claiming the changes are minor, there are over 99 articles in the full GDPR for a business owner to skim. This includes full information on the new rights that customers have and the new responsibilities for businesses and public authorities. This includes the new rights that customers have to find out what data a business is holding on them. Customers can also now opt out of you holding their data. If you use it, you must tell them what it is being used for. If you use it again for a different purpose, you need to ask for second permission. This is just one example of how the law is changing.

The two major changes that you should focus on are accountability and access to data. Basically, under the GDPR companies and public authorities are going to be far more accountable when using the personal information of individuals. This changes everything from how data is processed to the regulatory methods that must be in place. For instance, if you’re running a company with over 250 employees, you need to make sure you have documents showing why data is being collected and how it’s being used.

So, what can you do as a business owner to get ready for the GDPR? While it might seem like overkill, it may be worth hiring an expert. That way, you can make sure that your company is GDPR compliant and there’s no chance that you’ll have to pay that massive fine.

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