The internet is a crucial part of our daily life for nearly all of us. Over the past 20 years, the internet has completely changed our lives. It’s altered how we work, how we shop, and even how we connect and socialize with each other.
The internet has changed the world in many positive ways but has also brought complications. One is how personal and sensitive data is spread across the globe and all over the internet.
Personal information is a part of nearly every interaction online. At any time, a wide range of businesses and organizations could have an individual’s date of birth, address, payment information, and other sensitive data.
You probably collect a wide range of data for your business. However, various governments have attempted to limit the types of data collected over the years.
The most widely-ranging and enforced legislation is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which the European Union passed in 2018. It applies to any company that does business in the EU, even if that business isn’t based in the EU.
Read on for more information about GDPR and how you can prepare for it in your industry.
What is GDPR?
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a wide-ranging data privacy law passed by the EU in 2018. As mentioned earlier, it applies to your business if you sell products or services in the EU. Even if you are not based in the EU or have any offices in the EU, you still must comply with GDPR.
There have been many data privacy laws that have never been enforced. GDPR is different. The EU is serious about enforcing the rules of the law.
Small businesses could be crippled by GDPR fines. As an example, British Airways faces a 183 million euro fine and Marriott International faces a 99 million euro fine.
How Does GDPR Protect Consumers?
GDPR is comprehensive and affects data collection in a far-reaching capacity. Below are the eight consumers “rights” that are protected by GDPR:
- The right to access data that a company has collected. The company must provide data if requested.
- The right to be forgotten. Companies must delete data if requested to do so.
- The right to transfer data from one service provider to another.
- The right to be informed before their data is gathered.
- The right to have the information corrected if their data is incomplete or incorrect.
- The right to restrict their data from being used in processing.
- The right to object to their data being used for marketing. This is non-negotiable, and their data must not be used as soon as the request is made.
- The right to be notified if their data is breached.
As you can see, GDPR covers a wide range of rights and restrictions. To comply with GDPR, a business needs the capability to address all of these rights. That could be difficult, especially for smaller companies.
Six Tips to Prepare for GDPR
If you do business in the EU, you should consider taking action to prepare for GDPR sooner rather than later. The law is complex, but you can avoid fines and complications if you take action and prepare.
Here are a few action items to consider:
1. Assign a GDPR Officer
GDPR is wide-ranging and multi-faceted. There are many aspects to the legislation that could impact multiple departments in your business. It’s helpful to have one person designated as the GDPR officer.
That person should understand the law and how it affects your business. That person should also be involved in your business’s marketing efforts and understand how your company uses consumer data. They can then add their guidance to marketing decisions and provide an opinion on how to stay compliant with GDPR.
2. Audit Your Data
It’s possible that your current way of collecting and using data isn’t compliant with GDPR. If that’s the case, you’ll need to change your process.
For example, do you ask for consent on various website forms and pages before you collect data for marketing purposes? If not, you’ll need to under GDPR.
Do you offer ways for consumers to request their data from you or to request you to delete their data or restrict it from being used? Again, if you don’t, that’s something you’ll need to add.
3. Decide What Data is Essential
The more data you have, the more complicated your data management process will be. Simplicity is your friend when it comes to data management and GDPR compliance. Don’t keep more data than you need.
This is an excellent time to review the data you request from consumers and determine why you ask for the data. Do you need a particular piece of information, or are you simply asking for it to have it?
When a person signs up for your email list, you may ask for other information like their home address or phone number. If not, consider dropping it from the form. It’s just another piece of data you have to manage and protect.
4. Protect Your Data
Protection may be the most critical part of GDPR. Both of the fines mentioned earlier were for data leaks. While there are many parts of GDPR, data leaks or mismanagement are the items that draw the most attention and penalties.
Protecting data is always critical, but it’s now more important than ever. If you don’t already, now may be an excellent time to partner with a cybersecurity firm that can help protect your data from hackers and other vulnerabilities.
5. Obtain Consent
Consent is another big part of GDPR. You had consent as long as the person entered the information and hit the submit button. In the past, you could put some small disclaimers on the bottom of forms or other data-collection items, which was good enough.
That’s not the case under GDPR. You must explicitly tell them you will use their information for marketing purposes. If you plan on sharing the data with others, you must also disclose that.
They must also agree to your collection and handling of data. This doesn’t mean filling out the form. They must check a box in which they agree to your collection and use of information. If you don’t have consent options, now is the time to add them.
6. Implement Data-Handling Processes
The best way to protect data and stay compliant with GDPR is to implement processes that streamline your use of the data. A big one is to limit the number of people who work with data. That way, you can ensure that everyone who uses data understands what they can and can’t do.
Establish processes for each part of GDPR. What if a person requests to view their data? How does that happen? The same should be asked if a person requests to be deleted or to have their data transferred.
Go through each of the eight rights guaranteed under GDPR and define a process for responding to each request. If you’re accommodating those rights, you are likely doing your best to stay compliant.
The world is changing rapidly, and GDPR is another example of how business is also changing. GDPR is complex, but it will make you a safer company to work with and strengthen your customer relationship.
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