If you operate a business in the digital era, chances are, you collect your fair share of personal data. Whether it’s processing payments or simply managing a list of email subscribers, you probably store this information over an extended period of time. Any company that collects and stores personal information is required to comply with the regulations designed to protect it. GDPR is among the most complex of those laws.
Enforced on May 25, 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation aims to ensure individual data privacy in a digital age marred by a bevy of security threats. While the law specifically targets citizens residing in the European Union (EU), its stringent requirements are applicable to organizations all across the world. As such, GDPR compliance is a critical order of business for any company, regardless of industry or size, that wishes to maintain a global presence.
In relatively short order, the GDPR has become known as the world’s most challenging data privacy regulation. This reputation can be attributed to both its wide-reaching implications and dynamic nature as amendments have already been introduced. Before diving into the changes, let’s take a look at the core tenants of GDPR.
- Absolute transparency: The first principle couldn’t be any more simple and straightforward. Individuals reserve the right to know exactly what data you collect, why, and how you go about processing that information.
- Specific and limited usage: Personal information must be collected for purposes that are clear and specified to the individual. Collecting data for one purpose, then using it for another would be considered a violation of GDPR compliance.
- Minimal collection: Data collectors should only request the information they need and plan to use.
- Perpetual precision: Any personal data in storage must be accurate and kept current at all times. Any information deemed inaccurate must be updated for accuracy or deleted entirely.
- Temporary storage: There are a handful of exceptions, but generally speaking, personally identifying information can only be stored for as long as it is required.
- Data security: Any data in your possession must be protected at all times. The collector is responsible for safeguarding it against unauthorized access or illicit usage as well as accidental loss or corruption.
- Storage accountability: From the moment a company comes in possession of personal data, it immediately becomes responsible for the protection and privacy measures as outlined in the GDPR.
Key GDPR Changes
In addition to data protection, the main driving point to GDPR is simplicity through solidarity. The EU believes that by creating a single unified regulation, it can achieve data protection that surpasses the fragmented system it aims to replace. It’s a lofty goal that not only requires all union members to align their regulatory practices on the same page, but a reasonable degree of cooperation beyond the EU as well.
The GDPR is on the verge of yet another evolution, and these updates bring the promise of wide-reaching implications.
Broader Definition of Accountability
One the most significant changes the GDPR introduced is a broader understanding of just who is responsible for safeguarding data. According to the update, parties with joint control of personal information are on the hook for protecting it, and can therefore be held liable for related breaches or misuse. This particular aspect challenges organization to be doubly diligent about protecting the data in their possession — even when they pass it off to another party.
No More Privacy Shield
The GPDR has presented major challenges for organizations outside of the EU. In order to accommodate US data privacy laws, which are less stringent by comparison, the EU (reluctantly) incorporated the Privacy Shield. Introduced alongside the GPDR in 2018, this mechanism allowed personal data to be transferred from the EU to the US, essentially making it possible to conduct business internationally and maintain compliance.
In July 2020, the EU Court of Justice ruled that the Privacy Shield is no longer valid, and in the process, deemed countless organizations non-compliant. As a result, US companies were forced to include data handling clauses dictated by the EU in their terms and conditions. While the Privacy Shield carries no weight in Europe, it is still enforced in the US. Further, its core principals can be considered a foundation for GDPR and other data privacy requirements.
Web cookies have always been confusing as far as data privacy is concerned. Companies have used cookies and walled access as a means of obtaining personal data without specifying what’s being collected, or how it’s being used. Thanks to recent changes to the UK implementation of the GDPR, website operators must provide explicit consent to visitors based in the United Kingdom.
The aforementioned cookies update enforces three primary requirements:
- Specify that cookies are being used upon visiting
- Detail the function and purpose of those cookies
Creating a Sustainable GDPR Strategy
When factoring in the latest round of updates, keeping pace with the GDPR may sound more daunting than ever. While there are surely more changes to come, cyber security experts can stay on the right side of the law by honoring a few data protection fundamentals.
Streamline data processing: Facilitating seamless access to all data sources is critical to designing a comprehensive data protection strategy. Be it structured, unstructured, localized, or in the cloud, GDPR demands that organizations have verifiable proof of where personal data resides.
Identify what matters: Obtaining convenient access to the critical data sources will provide visibility into names, social security numbers, and other personal details. Even small companies are sitting on massive amounts of data, so having access to the right tools will go a long way in unlocking the insights necessary to achieve GDPR compliance.
Enforce strict access polices: Once all pertinent data has been identified, policies must be enforced to ensure that the appropriate parties have access. A policy enforcement model, complete with established roles and access privileges, will provide the level of control GDPR demands from collection and consumption to storage and beyond.
Go all in on IT security: Protecting the personal data in your possession is arguably the most challenging stop on the road to GDPR compliance. Security personnel is tasked with honoring the user’s privacy rights while maintaining an IT environment that allows for seamless data querying, analysis, and reporting. Again, adopting the right tools is essential to harmonizing GDPR requirements and mission-critical business functions.
Show and prove: GDPR regulators demand that organizations illustrate their commitment to compliance. By performing regular infrastructure audits, data security experts can validate and prove their adherence to the recommended guidelines.
When factoring in the latest round of updates, keeping pace with the GDPR may sound more daunting than ever. There are surely more changes to come, so now may be a good time to revisit your compliance strategy. DataLocker offers rock-solid encryption solutions that can play a pivotal role in your data protection efforts. Contact our team to request a custom demo.