written by Kevin
After four years of discussion and preparation by the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, and the European Commission, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is now ready to become effective on May 25, 2018 to achieve more comprehensive enforcement of personal data protection laws for all EU citizens. The importance of protecting personal data with legitimacy has been a major talking point in the recent times, and the EU is taking its bold step to set the bar for the rest of the world to follow.
Leading up to the GDPR
Let’s roll back the years to 1995, when the European Data Protection Directive was imposed to regulate the processing of personal data in the EU. Back then, personal data was simply a component of vast information database in the private scope, and was protected solely under the notion of ‘right to confidentiality.’ Fast forward to now, personal data plays a key role in achieving prolonged growth and greater success for global enterprises, as collecting, processing, and exchanging personal data has become the cornerstone of any business activity. This transition has been apparent and rapid with the various technological and business innovations like social media, complex data analytics, and data storage to achieve superior customer relationships. To keep pace with this unstoppable transition, global enterprises required, and have been obtaining a much wider range of personal data from more people around the globe. Consequently, personal data protection laws had to be reformed to acknowledge the notion of ‘right to protection,’ rather than that of ‘right to confidentiality.’
Understanding the GDPR
Come May 25, 2018, all organizations, even outside the EU, that are currently processing or planning to process personal data of the EU citizens must be prepared to comply with the GDPR. Unfortunately, it does not seem to be an easy task; therefore, we have summarized the GDPR into five key points.
One Law for 28 EU Members. Superseding the former European Data Protection Directive, the GDPR is a unified legislation that applies to all 28 member states of the EU. Under one set of laws, each EU member state will establish independent Supervisory Authorities (SA) that will receive and investigate complaints or data breaches, issue warnings or fines, and cooperate with other SAs if required. This change can be considered as welcoming, as the organizations are only required to comply with one set of laws, even if their activities are widespread across multiple EU member states.
More Power to the Data Subjects. The GDPR promises increased power for the data subjects. Data subjects are the natural persons whose personal data is processed by an organization. First and foremost, the organizations must provide clear and concise consent to the data subjects before collecting their personal data, signifying the end of long, illegible terms and conditions that are full of legalese. Furthermore, data subjects can lawfully request the organizations for the access, rectification, erasure, restriction of processing, portability, and objection of their personal data. Accordingly, the organizations must provide documentation that proves the completion of the data subjects’ request(s). Also, the GDPR provides the data subjects with the explicit right to lodge a complaint with the SAs, if any processing of their personal data infringes the GDPR requirements.
Strengthened Authority and Heavier Sanctions. The GDPR declares strengthened authority and heavier sanctions for non-compliance. Through the SAs, written warnings or periodic data protection audits will be imposed in cases of the first and unintentional infringement. Severe infringements may be punishable by a fine up to 20 million Euros or 4% of the annual worldwide turnover. Stricter sanctions dictated by the GDPR certainly put pressure on enterprises and organizations to invest substantial capital and resources to ensure that personal data remains protected and data subjects’ right and freedom are not harmed by non-compliance.
Data Protection by Design and by Default. It is the organizations’ legal responsibility to establish appropriate organizational and technological measures to meet the requirements of the GDPR and protect the rights of data subjects. Organizational measures pertain to appointing appropriate personnel, who can dedicate their expertise and responsibility for the GDPR compliance, while technological measures are associated with the integration of necessary security into the processing of personal data to ensure that rights of the data subjects are protected. This responsibility alludes to the GDPR’s new obligation of appointing Data Protection Officers (DPO) and establishing organization-wide data security.
Data Breach Notification. Unfortunately, data breaches can always occur. In this case, DPOs must take it seriously and notify it to the SAs immediately, or within 72 hours of discovery, by specifying the details such as the number of affected individuals. Furthermore, the affected individuals must be notified of the data breaches as soon as possible. Failure or refusal to notifying such data breaches to the SAs can result in sanctions.
Due to comprehensive and strengthened enforcement, complying with the GDPR will neither be an easy nor avoidable task for many organizations that wish to operate in the EU. As our commitment to data security stays true, we felt obliged to seriously approach and understand the GDPR, and share its implications to data security. The deadline to compliance, May 25, 2018 is approaching rapidly, and we hope that your journey to GDPR compliance will start off positively with Secudrive.