GDPR – Data Protection Gets Serious
GDPR – Data Protection Gets Serious
On 14 April 2016, the EU Parliament adopted the long awaited General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
The GDPR will have considerable impact on all companies that provide goods or services to Europe, regardless of the company’s location and in many ways differs significantly from existing European data protection laws.
Once the Regulation is published, companies will have just over 24 months to comply with the new Regulation or risk facing fines equal to 4% of the company’s annual worldwide turnover for non-compliance.
GDPR – Immediate Applicability
The GDPR replaces the current European data protection regime consisting of the 1995 Data Protection Directive and 28 national data protection laws. The GDPR will be directly applicable in every EU Member State, without the necessity of implementing national laws.
GDPR – Explicit Consent
The Regulation requires explicit consent to be given by individuals for processing their personal data. In the past, consent could be considered valid if obtained implicitly. Companies will need to move away from processes that rely upon consent as the default (e.g., pre-checked) option, whereby individuals must “opt-out” to withhold consent. Instead companies will now need to show that an individual expressly agreed to the processing of their personal data via an “opt-in” mechanism (e.g., by checking a box or performing some other intentional act) for it to be valid.
GDPR – Reporting of Data Breaches
Companies that experience significant data breaches will now be required to notify the relevant national data protection authorities and (in some cases) data subjects that such an incident occurred. This brings Europe closer in line with existing U.S. breach notification laws that require companies to inform various state regulators and/or law enforcement and/or data subjects if they experience a data breach.
GDPR – Data Portability
Data subjects must be able to transfer their data easily from one service provider to another. Companies should consider whether to modify how they collect and retain personal data to simplify data transfers.
GDPR – Data Processors Under Scrutiny
Third parties who process personal data on behalf of other companies (e.g., for invoicing, shipping, payment processing) will be required to comply with a number of specific data protection related obligations. Failure to meet these obligations as a data processor will result in sanctions for non-compliance.
GDPR – Data Protection Officer
Companies will have to appoint a Data Protection Officer(DPO) when they are, for example, processing sensitive data (health or financial information). The DPO will be required to report directly to senior management.
GDPR – Extra-territorial Reach
The GDPR will apply to companies established outside the EU that process personal data from or on behalf of European companies. Foreign companies will also be subject to the Regulation if they “target” European markets or individuals. This means that any online business that intentionally markets to Europeans, or engages in activities such as customer profiling, or expressly offers products or services to European consumers or entities is likely to fall within the scope of the GDPR.
GDPR – Greater Responsibility
The GDPR imposes greater responsibility and accountability on companies regarding how they control and process personal data.
GDPR – Harmonization
The entire EU will be subject to the GDPR. This means there will be a single set of rules governing data protection throughout the region, rather than differences from one State to the other, as is the case now with 28 different national data protection laws.
GDPR – One-Stop-Shop
Companies that have multiple locations or conduct operations in multiple European countries will have a single national data protection authority act as the lead regulator for any compliance or enforcement issues.
GDPR – Privacy By Design
Companies must consider ways to mitigate any risk of harm to data subjects throughout the process of designing new products or services. These new products or services should by default ensure that only minimal personal data is collected, used and retained. Companies may incorporate an approved certification mechanism to demonstrate compliance with such requirements.
GDPR – Privacy Impact Assessment
A Privacy Impact Assessment will become a mandatory pre-requisite before processing personal data for operations that are likely to present higher privacy risks to data subjects due to the nature or scope of the processing operation.
GDPR – Right To Be Forgotten
Data subjects have the unequivocal right to request that a company responsible for the collection and use of their personal data to delete it if there are no legitimate grounds for a company to retain it. This means that companies will need to carefully examine their statutory obligations to retain certain types of data, as well as their internal data retention policies to identify when and if it may delete personal data at the request of a data subject.
GDPR – Transparency
Companies will need to be more transparent about their privacy practices and policies. This means that online businesses in particular will need to enhance their website privacy policies to include much more detailed information. It goes without saying that any information provided in such policies will need to be written clearly and accurately reflect current company practices and procedures regarding the collection and processing of personal data.
GDPR – Stronger Enforcement
Non-compliance could lead to heavier sanctions. The GDPR enables regulators to levy financial sanctions of up to 4% of the annual worldwide turnover of the company for non-compliance.
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