Data Protection: A Guide to GDPR Compliance
Data storage and management have expanded significantly with the ever-growing technological advances of the 21st century. With this expansion, companies need to be aware of the risks of storing and managing customer data and ensure they are compliant with data protection regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This article provides an overview of GDPR compliance, including the legal requirements and steps that companies can take to ensure they are properly following the regulation.
1. Introduction to the General Data Protection Regulation
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been in effect since May 2018, providing individuals with a greater level of protection and control over how their personal data is used. It also ensures that businesses abide by stricter privacy rules when dealing with personal data. Working towards GDPR compliance can be a challenge for any organization, but it is necessary in order to honor the rights of individuals.
- Requirements Under GDPR: Organizations must comply with a range of requirements including obtaining consent for processing data, providing access to information upon request, and allowing individuals to delete any preexisting personal data.
- Data Protection Officer: Certain organizations may be required to appoint a Data Protection Officer, responsible for ensuring that employees adhere to GDPR regulations.
- Record Keeping and Auditing: Organizations must have processes in place for documenting how they collect and process data, as well as audit trails that show the changes they’ve made.
- Penalties for Non-compliance: Non-compliance with GDPR can result in hefty penalties including fines and restrictions on the processing of data.
Understanding and implementing GDPR may seem like a daunting task, but there are a number of tools and resources available to help organizations work toward full compliance. It is essential for any organization working with personal data to keep up-to-date with GDPR regulations and to ensure that they understand the consequences of non-compliance.
2. Understanding GDPR Compliance Requirements
The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has become one of the most important pieces of data privacy legislation in the world. It sets out stringent guidelines for handling and protecting personal data, and has the potential to impact almost every company — from multinational conglomerates to small businesses. With fines reaching up to €20 Million or 4% of global turnover, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the GDPR requirements and ensure your organization is compliant.
The GDPR requires organizations to classify personal data into two categories — private and sensitive. Private data includes information such as a person’s name, address, email address, and contact numbers. Sensitive data, on the other hand, is more sensitive information that can be used to identify a person, such as medical data, bank account details, or racial or ethnic origin. Companies need to be aware of the types of data they hold and ensure that any personal data is classified correctly.
The GDPR requires companies to obtain valid consent from individuals before they collect and process their personal data. Companies must request consent in a clear, precise manner and offer individuals the opportunity to withdraw their consent at any time. Once consent has been obtained, organizations need to ensure that they can demonstrate that the consent was given in accordance with GDPR requirements.
Data Protection Principles
The GDPR sets out seven data protection principles that must be followed by all companies. These principles are as follows:
- Data must be processed lawfully, fairly, and in a transparent manner.
- Data may only be collected for specified, explicit, and legitimate purposes.
- Collection of data must be limited to what is necessary and relevant to the purpose for which it is collected.
- Data must be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date.
- Data must be kept for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which it is processed.
- Data must be processed in a manner that ensures its security.
- Organizations must ensure that individuals’ rights are respected.
Organizations must ensure that they adhere to these principles when handling personal information and must be able to demonstrate that they have done so. Failing to comply with the GDPR requirements can result in hefty fines.
Data Protection Officer (DPO)
Organizations with more than 250 employees are required to appoint a DPO who will be responsible for monitoring data protection activities and ensuring compliance with the GDPR. Even if a company does not have the necessary number of employees to require a DPO, they may still need to appoint one if their activities involve the processing of personal data that is complex or takes place on a large scale.
Data Security Measures
Organizations must implement appropriate technical and organizational measures to ensure the security of the personal data they process. Examples of such measures include encryption, access control, and regular backups. They must also ensure that their security measures are regularly tested and reviewed to ensure they remain appropriate and up to date.
3. Establishing a Gatekeeping Policy
Having a data access policy, also known as a gatekeeping policy, is a critical element to thoroughly secure your GDPR-regulated data. Developing an effective plan can be a challenge due to the complexity of the regulations, but the effort required can be worth it since organizations are held compliant with GDPR and must be vigilant in protecting customer data. This section will focus on practical steps for setting up a gatekeeping policy.
- Identify Ownership of Data - After collecting customer data, it is important to track who owns that data and what type of access permissions have been granted. Setting up clear procedures helps to prevent any unauthorized access to the data.
- Define Access Levels – Identify the different levels of access that will be available within your organization. Data access should only be granted to personnel who need it to perform their job duties.
- Set Up Network Security – Establishing secure network protocols is important to prevent any potential hacks or attempts to access data. Make sure to include authentication measures such as two-factor authentication.
- Create Unified Access Rules - Define the rules for accessing and sharing data. These rules should make it clear who can access specific data and what the procedures are for editing or deleting it.
- Develop an Incident Response Plan – Being prepared for a potential data breach is critical to stopping it from happening. Create an incident response plan that details what steps should be taken in the event of a data breach.
By following these steps, businesses can stay compliant with GDPR and take proactive measures to protect their customer data. Taking time to create and monitor a gatekeeping policy is an essential part of data protection.
4. Establishing Internal Data Protection Procedures
The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) states that organizations are responsible for protecting personal data under their control. As such, in an effort to comply with GDPR, it is essential that companies establish internal data protection procedures. These procedures will help keep information secure, and ensure that data is collected, stored, and managed responsibly. Here are a few steps to follow for GDPR compliance:
- Create a Data Protection Officer: Establishing a Data Protection Officer (DPO) gives accountability to procedures and provides a point of contact for any data protection questions. The DPO oversees company-wide data protection compliance and is responsible for the organization’s activities with regard to GDPR. The role of the DPO can also be outsourced.
- Assess Data Storage and Management: Companies should inventory and assess their existing data storage and management systems to ensure that they meet GDPR requirements. This includes having a clear framework for data categorization, access, handling, and backup.
- Have Appropriate Permissions and Controls: It is crucial to be able to detect who is accessing personal data and when. In order to ensure that only authorized personnel have access to data, policies and protocols should be put in place that require appropriate authentication.
- Record Keeping of Compliance: Companies should keep detailed records of their compliance activities, including the date the GDPR was established, the types of personal data being collected and processed, the record of any data breaches, and a list of all third-party providers. This can help companies prove their GDPR compliance.
By implementing the above procedures, organizations can ensure that they are in compliance with GDPR’s requirements and that personal data is securely guarded at all times.
5. Implementing Technical Safeguards
Technical safeguards are one of the most important areas of the GDPR framework for data protection. To ensure GDPR compliance, businesses must ensure that they have physical and technical controls in place for protecting personal data. This includes system access control and authentication, encryption, access logging, network security, and data backup.
- System Access Control and Authentication: This includes controlling access to sensitive systems, applications and databases by requiring users to authenticate with strong passwords as well as two-factor authentication. This oversight will provide an additional layer of security for individuals’ data.
- Encryption: Encryption is a necessity for protecting personal data at rest and in transit. Businesses must use encryption technologies to protect personal data from unauthorized access.
- Access Logging: Companies must keep a log of each user’s access to personal data. This will give businesses the ability to track data breaches, identify users with unauthorized access, and discover any malicious activities.
- Network Security: Network security is essential for preventing digital attacks and data theft. companies must use firewalls, anti-virus programs, and other security measures to prevent unauthorized access to their systems.
- Data Backup: To ensure the safety of personal data, companies must have a reliable backup and recovery plan in place. This will help businesses prevent data from being lost or corrupted due to a system failure or attack.
By implementing these technical safeguards, companies can ensure GDPR compliance and protect the personal data of individuals.
6. Establishing a Breach Response Plan
Every organization that handles customers’ data must have a plan in place that ensures data protection and GDPR compliance. A breach response plan is an essential part of any data protection strategy, covering the necessary steps organizations should take to protect their data, customers and reputation.
- Know Your Vulnerabilities – Analyze your systems, data and any third-party applications your organization uses, to identify any security vulnerabilities that could lead to a breach. Identify weak spots and create policies and procedures to secure them.
- Alert Appropriate Personnel – Make sure all relevant personnel is aware of the potential threat and any potential repercussions. Make sure everyone knows who to contact in the case of a breach.
- Investigate the Breach - Quickly investigate the breach to identify its scope and severity. What data was affected? Who is involved? Take immediate steps to limit the damage and ensure data protection.
- Notify Data Subjects & Authorities – GDPR requires organizations to notify data subjects and the relevant authorities in case of a breach. It’s important to do this as quickly as possible, while still following the appropriate protocols.
- Remediate and Secure Data -Take steps to remediate the breach and secure data as soon as possible. As part of this, consider reevaluating your existing security measures and taking additional steps to reduce the likelihood of further risks.
- Review and Adjust Your Plan – Finally, review the breach response plan and make necessary adjustments to ensure future breaches will be adequately addressed. Ensure the plan is regularly updated to reflect your policy changes and new risk assessment.
By having a breach response plan in place, organizations can protect their data, customers and reputation. With the GDPR now in effect, it’s more important than ever for organizations to ensure their data protection and GDPR compliance.
7. Keeping Records of Data Processing
Data Protection Regulation requires organizations to keep records of personal data activities, like collection, usage, and sharing, for compliance and transparency. Since keeping such records is a vital part of GDPR compliance, it is important to understand the different types of data processing records and how they should be tracked and maintained.
Types of Data Processing:
- directly collecting data from individuals (e.g., when they use your website, fill out your forms, etc.)
- receiving data from another organization (e.g., when you purchase customer lists)
- transferring personal data to a third-party (e.g., when you use another service to handle customer orders)
- deleting or anonymizing personal data
Data Processing Records:
- The purpose of the data processing
- The categories of personal data processed
- Who is responsible for the processing (if applicable)
- How the data will be processed
- The evidence of consent (if required)
- Regular reviews of the data holding and accuracy
Organizations are also required to maintain additional records such as contracts with third-party data processors, risk assessment documents, and details of data protection breaches. These records must be kept for at least two years, and some records may need to be held for longer.
Organizations must also make all records available to the supervisory authority upon request. Every organization is different, and the types of data processing records required may vary, but it is important to ensure that the most important records are documented and kept up-to-date.
8. Ensuring Staff Compliance with GDPR Regulations
Ensuring Staff Compliance with GDPR Regulations
- Familiarize employees with the General Data Protection Regulation: Providing a comprehensive overview of the regulation helps staff become aware of their responsibilities and potential penalties. Training sessions discussing the impact of the GDPR should also be held on a regular basis to ensure there is no misunderstanding and the staff is up to date with the latest requirements.
- Create appropriate policies and procedures: Drawing up an internal policy and procedure document is an essential part of becoming GDPR compliant. This should cover employee behavior while handling personal data, details of how breaches will be reported, and the process for responding to requests from data subjects.
- Keep exact records: All staff should be familiar with how to properly document any processing activities that involve personal data. An audit trail should be kept of any changes made and there should be a log of any data breaches.
- Evaluate data protection risk: Employees should routinely assess the level of risk associated with the handling of personal data. Measures could include the restriction of access to certain information, monitoring compliance or introducing list of intrusion detection.
- Implement security measures: All employee systems should be secure. Any transmission of data should be encrypted and access to information should be restricted to data controllers and those with admittance rights.
- Appoint a data protection officer (DPO): If an organization’s activities necessitate the regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a large scale basis, the DPO should be identified or appointed as mandatory by GDPR. This individual should have the necessary skills to handle questions about data protection processes.
- Monitor and review processes: Regular reviews should be conducted and adjustments made to the GDPR regulations could be implemented as required. It is important that reports are reviewed to ensure that the data is accurate and up to date.
- Make sure staff understand their roles and responsibilities: Every staff member involved should understand the GDPR and their own specific roles. Training should be provided to make sure this is known and understood by all.
9. Taking Legal Action in Non-Compliant Situations
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is an EU Directive that requires companies to take certain measures to protect data and privacy. GDPR compliance is necessary to keep data safe from misuse or manipulation. It is important that companies understand their legal obligations when it comes to data protection and follow the appropriate procedures.
Taking Legal Action in Non-Compliant Situations:
- It is important to note that failure to comply with GDPR can result in serious penalties, such as fines. Companies must adhere to all regulations, maintain records of GDPR compliance, and ensure their security measures are in line with the GDPR’s requirements.
- To take legal action against an organization that does not comply with GDPR requirements, the user can submit a complaint with the respective supervising authority to request an investigation. If the investigation confirms the non-compliance of the organization, it will be liable to administrative, civil or criminal liability.
- Individuals concerned by any GDPR infringement may also contact the data protection authority or the media to inform them of the situation.
- In case the user suspects a misuse of their personal data, legal action must be taken without delay and the user must contact the appropriate authorities. If the misuse of data results in material or reputational damages, the user may claim compensation.
10. When and How to Notify Data Protection Authorities
Under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), data processors and controllers must specify the circumstances in which they must inform relevant data protection authorities.
- If a personal data breach occurs, it should be reported to the relevant data protection authorities within 72 hours of becoming aware of it.
- If the data breach is likely to threaten the rights and freedoms of individuals, data protection authorities need to be notified even beyond the 72-hour window.
- If the data controller and processor is considering new technologies that will process personal data, they must notify data protection authorities prior to their deployment.
- Data controllers and processors need to regularly track changes in their data processing activities, and inform data protection authorities for any significant changes that require permission.
- Data controllers and processors must also inform data protection authorities of any termination or suspension of data processing activities.
Data controllers and processors should ensure they have all the necessary information on hand to know when to inform data protection authorities. It is important to understand the different requirements of the GDPR and develop an appropriate compliance strategy in order to successfully comply with its requirements.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a significant data protection law that impacts all organizations that process the personal data of EU-based individuals. It is an important piece of legislation, necessary to secure the data privacy of all citizens.
By understanding GDPR compliance and the importance of data protection principles, organizations can ensure that they are meeting the requirements of the law, and protecting the data of their customers and partners. Through implementing data protection policies and procedures, data related incidents can be prevented and the appropriate measures can be taken when they do occur.
We have covered some of the main aspects of GDPR compliance in this guide. To summarize, here are a few points to keep in mind:
- Data protection must be taken seriously and must be embedded into the practices of the business.
- Transparency is key; organizations must communicate with customers and partners on the handling of their data.
- Organizations must conduct privacy impact assessments.
Data protection is fundamental to all successful businesses. By understanding the GDPR, and following the necessary steps to comply with it, organizations can protect the data of their customers and build trust between them.
Understanding data protection and GDPR compliance is essential for any business, as failure to comply can incur significant penalties. Taking steps to ensure the secure storage and processing of customer data, as well as considering the rights and responsibilities of data subjects is an important part of meeting compliance requirements. With the right approach, businesses can achieve GDPR compliance while continuing to provide great customer experiences.