After all the rumors, long debates, and heated discussions, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) have been confirmed.
In 2018, these comprehensive guidelines will govern the way companies deal with, and protect, consumer information originating from the EU.
Any company that doesn’t comply will face severe consequences.
Offending organizations will face a fine of up to €20 million, or four percent of annual turnover, whichever is higher.
It’s a massive jump from the £400,000 fine imposed on Talk Talk by UK regulators. So far, this is the highest recorded penalty for a data protection breach to date.
GDPR will affect any nation handling the personal data of customers living in the European Union. Despite Brexit, this includes UK businesses trading with 5,000 or more people within the EU, part of its extra-territoriality clause.
The regulations could also apply to U.S. firms, where many high-profile organizations handle personal data from EU member states.
These new rules will push cybersecurity into the public interest, forcing companies to accept responsibility for their security protocols. What’s more, much of the content within the new regulations focus on the importance of consistent, up-to-date security measures.
With large-scale data breaches becoming ever more common, these measures couldn’t come sooner enough.
GDPR will give EU residents a lot more protection. As a result, consumers will be able to choose how the organizations that acquire it handles their data.
Many within the EU believed that the region’s existing rules on data protection were weak and outdated. In fact, the current rulebook, the Data Protection Directive, is already two decades old and things have changed.
In 1996, the Internet was relatively new to most organizations. There was nothing like the quantity of personal data being handled and shared by companies operating online today.
The existing regulations call for a very low minimum standard of IT protection. This means the level of commitment from country to country can vary dramatically. GDPR will be a uniting force that bridges this disparity across EU member states and, in many cases, beyond.
The small print
So, what are the changes? Much of GDPR focus on consent. As well as broadening the definition of personal data to include any information that could be used to identify a person, the processes required to gain this information will become stricter too.
Companies must tell individuals exactly why they are collecting personal data and what they will use it for. An organization can’t just harvest this information. Instead, users must give consent in a clear and valid way. On top of this, businesses will need parental consent to process data from users below the age of 16.
Individuals will also have more control over how much of their data is made available. A new clause states that consumers be automatically given the right to request a duplicate of their information. They can also withdraw permission for its further distribution and analysis, for good.
What’s more, it will become illegal for any data to be kept permanently.
Another critical area of online protection that GDPR covers is security, for both data controllers, and data processors. Privacy impact assessments are set to become compulsory for all groups dealing with personal data originating from the EU.
By law, companies will have to report any breaches to the relevant data protection authority within 72 hours. Businesses will have to contact consumers directly about more substantial breaches.
And it won’t just be big businesses who’ll have to pay up if a breach leads to a data leak. For the first time, data processors will be held legally responsible too.
Although smaller than those faced by data controllers, data processing firms could see fines up to €10 million.
Companies are also being forced to make security an integral part of its online presence. Any data no longer required must be disposed of, and never kept for future reference.
For companies processing a large volume of sensitive data, it will become mandatory to employ a specialist data protection officer.
An EU-elected authority on data protection will oversee and regulate the whole GDPR process.
GDPR isn’t going to come into effect until May 2018, but businesses need to act now to avoid hefty fines.
The first step is to evaluate the security systems they already have in place. It’s vital that companies take a detailed look at their security protocols to ensure they meet the standard.
For those companies who fall below what is required, it’s time to invest in a serious IT security strategy.
At Gold Security, we have the expertise to ensure your online presence is as secure as it possibly can be, and that it remains that way permanently.
Providing each of our clients with a bespoke service, we will trawl your site hunting for any hidden weaknesses. After securing your site, we will give you the tools to monitor any potential breaches. You will be able to catch them at the source before they can cause any damage.
With these methods in place, your company will be able to tackle the challenges of GDPR head on.