In April of 2016, the EU adopted new legislation protecting the privacy of internet users. The General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, is designed to protect users’ personal data and has sparked a big change in how governments view privacy laws.
In this article, we will discuss the GDPR and what it entails for users and businesses alike, as well as the rights that GDPR enforces for EU citizens.
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What is GDPR?
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was adopted by the European Council and the European Parliament on April 27, 2016. It took two years to take effect, on May 25, 2018, replacing the EU’s original 1995 Data Protection Directive.
Essentially, the GDPR is a data protection legislation designed to give EU citizens more control over their personal data. The amendments are designed to reflect the world we’re living in now as opposed to in the 1990s; a highly-technological age where personal data goes beyond the physical world and is now accessible via the internet.
Personal data, in the context of the GDPR, can be defined as “any information that relates to an identified or identifiable living individual”. Separate pieces of information, which when put together can lead to the identification of a particular person, also constitutes a form of personal data. Examples of personal data include:
- Names and surnames
- Race and gender
- Sexual orientation
- Political stance
- Health information
- Home addresses
- Email addresses
- Identification card numbers
- Location data
- IP (internet protocol) addresses
- Cookie IDs
- Advertising identifiers
What is GDPR Compliance?
The GDPR applies to both companies operating in the EU and companies operating elsewhere, but selling goods and services to EU citizens. All businesses, whether small or large, must comply with the regulations. There are exceptions for some companies, however, who work with data as a core function of their business and have proven no harm or risk to citizens. Ultimately, this means that most corporations need to be GDPR compliant.
The GDPR sets out seven main principles:
- Lawfulness, fairness, and transparency: All personal data should be processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner in relation to all persons.
- Purpose limitation: Data should be collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes only, and not further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes.
- Data minimisation: This data must be adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the reasons for which they are being processed.
- Accuracy: The data should at all times be accurate and, wherever necessary, kept up to date.
- Storage limitation: Personal data should be kept for no longer than is absolutely necessary for the purposes for which the personal data are processed, except when the data is used for purposes that will benefit the public (for example for scientific, historical or statistical purposes).
- Integrity and confidentiality: The data should be processed in a manner that ensures the appropriate security of the personal data.
- Accountability: The controller shall be responsible for and be able to demonstrate compliance with the above principles at all times.
In order for a business to be GDPR compliant, they need to follow the above seven principles in relation to a person’s data. Failure to comply will result in disciplinary action, and fines of up to 4% of annual global revenue or 20 million Euros, whichever is greater.
Even as a freelancer – be it a writer, designer, developer, or any other independent professional – GDPR compliance is vital for building client trust, avoiding substantial penalties, and showcasing your dedication to data privacy.
The 8 Basic Rights of GDPR
In addition to the seven principles of GDPR compliance, there are eight basic rights that the GDPR protects:
- The Right to Information
- The Right of Access
- The Right to Rectification
- The Right to Erasure
- The Right to Restriction of Processing
- The Right to Data Portability
- The Right to Object
- The Right to Avoid Automated Decision-Making
These rights are upheld by the GDPR in order to give individuals more autonomy in regard to their personal data privacy.
The right to access allows you to request and gain access to any information that a company has collected about you. The rights to automated processing, erasure and data portability allows individuals to request that data is erased, and gives you the right to choose whether or not you want to provide the information.
Why is the GDPR Important for Businesses?
The GDPR sets out specific requirements for how businesses must process personal data. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in significant fines and reputational damage. For example, British Airways was issued with a £183 million fine by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which was the biggest fine issued by the office up to that date.
GDPR-compliant businesses can demonstrate to their customers that they are completely trustworthy; it shows that they take data privacy and security seriously and can be trusted with their personal information.
GDPR compliance can be a competitive advantage for businesses, as customers may choose to do business with companies that demonstrate a commitment to protecting their personal data rather than with those that don’t.
Compliance with the GDPR is important for businesses as it sets out specific requirements for how personal data must be processed, failure to comply can result in significant fines and reputational damage. GDPR compliance can also be a competitive advantage for businesses as it demonstrates a commitment to protecting personal data, which can build trust with customers.
Overall, the GDPR is an important step towards protecting personal data privacy in the digital age. These regulations can set the precedent for how data privacy should be handled worldwide, and can help to protect individuals from crimes such as data theft or identity fraud.