What is GDPR?
GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation. It is a regulation implemented by the European Union (EU) in May 2018 to protect the privacy and personal data of EU residents. The aim of GDPR is to give individuals more control over their personal data and to standardise data protection laws across EU member states.
GDPR impacts how businesses collect, store, process, and share personal data. This regulation introduces strict rules about gaining consent before collecting personal data, respecting individuals’ rights to access their data, and ensuring that this data is protected from breaches. For a more comprehensive understanding of GDPR, refer to our article on the general data protection regulation.
Who Does GDPR Apply To?
GDPR applies to all organisations located within the EU, as well as organisations outside the EU if they offer goods or services to, or monitor the behaviour of, EU data subjects. It applies to all company sizes and sectors.
In essence, if an organisation processes personal data of individuals in the EU, regardless of where the organisation itself is located, it is subject to the regulations of GDPR. It’s also important to note that GDPR applies to both digital data and manual filing systems where personal data is accessible.
|Entity||Does GDPR Apply|
|Companies located in the EU||Yes|
|Companies not located in the EU, but process data of EU residents||Yes|
|Companies with fewer than 250 employees||Yes, if the data processing impacts the rights & freedoms of data subjects|
Key Principles of GDPR
Lawfulness, Fairness, and Transparency
The principle of lawfulness, fairness, and transparency emphasises the need for data to be processed lawfully and fairly. Businesses must provide clear information to individuals about how their data is being used, ensuring transparency in all data processing activities. For more information on lawful data processing, refer to our article on GDPR requirements.
Under the purpose limitation principle, personal data can only be collected for specified, explicit, and legitimate purposes. Businesses must clearly state why they are collecting data and can only use it for the purpose specified. Further processing should align with the original purpose, or businesses need to obtain additional consent from the individual.
The principle of data minimisation states that businesses should only collect and process the personal data that is necessary to fulfil the stated purpose. It encourages businesses to limit their data collection to only what is essential. For a deeper understanding of what constitutes personal data under GDPR, read our article on GDPR personal data definition.
The accuracy principle requires businesses to take reasonable steps to ensure that the personal data they process is accurate and up to date. Any inaccurate data should be rectified or deleted without delay.
Under the storage limitation principle, personal data should be kept in a form that allows identification of individuals for no longer than necessary. Businesses should establish time limits for erasure or review of data, ensuring that outdated or unnecessary data is deleted.
Integrity and Confidentiality
The principle of integrity and confidentiality, often referred to as the security principle, requires businesses to implement appropriate security measures to protect personal data. This includes protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing and accidental loss, destruction, or damage. For more information on data protection measures, refer to our article on GDPR data protection.
By understanding and applying these key principles, businesses can ensure that they are in line with GDPR requirements and are protecting the rights of individuals. For a comprehensive guide to GDPR compliance, check out our GDPR compliance checklist.
- The Identity of the Data Controller: The policy must clearly state who is responsible for the collection and processing of personal data. This is usually the organisation or individual that determines the purpose and means of processing personal data. You can learn more about this role in our article on the gdpr data controller.
- Purpose of Data Collection: The policy should specify why the organisation is collecting personal data, ensuring that data processing has a legitimate purpose.
- Types of Personal Data Collected: It needs to define what constitutes personal data as per the gdpr personal data definition and list the types of personal data the organisation collects.
- Data Usage and Processing: The policy must explain how the organisation uses and processes the collected data.
- Data Protection Measures: It should detail the measures taken by the organisation to protect personal data, a topic further explored in our gdpr data protection article.
- Data Subject Rights: The policy must inform individuals about their rights under GDPR, including the right to access, correct, erase, restrict processing of their personal data, and more. For a full list of these rights, refer to our article on gdpr data subject rights.
- Data Breach Notification Procedures: The policy should outline the procedures in place to detect, report, and investigate a personal data breach. You can learn more about this in our article on gdpr data breach notification.
- Contact Information: Lastly, the policy must provide contact information for the organisation and the designated GDPR data protection officer, if applicable.
Steps to Ensure GDPR Compliance
Conduct a Data Audit
The first step towards GDPR compliance is to conduct a data audit. This involves identifying and examining the personal data your organisation collects, uses, and stores. Understand where the data comes from, how it’s processed, and who has access to it. This audit will help you establish a clear picture of your organisation’s data processing activities and make it easier to identify areas where you need to improve compliance. For a detailed guide, refer to our GDPR compliance checklist.
Implement Data Protection Measures
Implementing robust data protection measures is a crucial step towards GDPR compliance. This may involve updating your IT systems, adopting encryption technologies, or enhancing your data access controls. As a GDPR data controller, you are responsible for ensuring the security of the personal data you handle. For more information on GDPR data protection measures, read our article on GDPR data protection.
Train Your Staff
GDPR compliance is not just a technical issue; it also involves training your staff to handle personal data correctly. All staff members should understand what constitutes personal data, how to process it in line with the GDPR, and how to respond to data subjects exercising their rights. A GDPR data protection officer can oversee this training. For more information on training, visit our article on GDPR data protection training.
Prepare for Data Breaches
Finally, you should have a plan in place to respond to data breaches. This should include procedures to detect, report, and investigate a personal data breach. As per the GDPR, you must notify the relevant supervisory authority within 72 hours of becoming aware of a data breach. In some cases, you may also need to notify the affected data subjects. For more details on data breach notification, read our article on GDPR data breach notification.
By following these steps, you can ensure that your organisation is on the right path towards GDPR compliance. Remember, GDPR is about more than just ticking boxes; it’s about respecting and protecting the privacy rights of individuals. Keep your data subjects informed, respect their rights, and maintain transparency in your data processing activities to foster trust and maintain compliance.
Once your organisation has achieved GDPR compliance, it is essential to maintain it. This requires a proactive approach, including regular reviews and updates of policies, staying informed about changes in legislation, and seeking professional advice when necessary.
Regularly Review and Update Your Policies
By conducting regular audits, you can identify potential areas of non-compliance and take immediate corrective actions. This also ensures that your policies remain transparent and understandable to the data subjects, thereby maintaining the trust and confidence of your clients, customers, or users.
Stay Informed about Changes in Legislation
The regulations surrounding data protection and privacy are continuously changing. Therefore, it’s crucial to stay abreast of new developments and changes in the legislation related to GDPR.
There are numerous resources available, such as the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) website, where you can find updates, guidelines, and advice on GDPR. By staying informed, you can ensure your organisation continues to meet all the GDPR requirements and adheres to the GDPR personal data definition.
Seek Professional Advice When Needed
Sometimes, understanding and implementing GDPR can be complex, especially when dealing with intricate data processing activities or large volumes of personal data. In such cases, it can be beneficial to seek professional advice.
Data protection consultants or legal professionals specializing in privacy laws can provide valuable insights and guidance to ensure your policies and procedures align with GDPR. They can conduct comprehensive audits, suggest appropriate data protection measures, and assist in case of a data breach.
Even within your organisation, appointing a Data Protection Officer (DPO) can be a good step towards maintaining compliance. The DPO, who should have expert knowledge of data protection laws and practices, can oversee all GDPR-related activities, including data protection training, enforcement of policies, and acting as a point of contact for data subjects.
In conclusion, maintaining GDPR compliance is an ongoing task that requires continuous effort and diligence. By regularly reviewing and updating your policies, staying informed about changes in legislation, and seeking professional advice when needed, you can ensure your organisation continues to respect and protect the privacy rights of individuals.