The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a law in Europe that protects personal information export within and outside the EU. It is one of the world's most-extensive and prominent data concealment regulations that all businesses ought to be compliant with. The bill is set to be effective as from May 25, 2018, and will apply to all firms controlling citizens' consumer info, irrespective of their sizes, industry, and countries of origin. It demands all marketers have the necessary processes and documents in place. Many small firm owners, however, might find it overwhelming to comply with, and especially those without reliable resources. But, unlike what many may think, it will apply to every single business; from large companies to those with less than 250 employees. However, before we get into its finer details, let's first get to know what GDPR exactly is.
What is GDPR?
The EU member states proposed the GDPR in 2012 to create consistent data privacy laws.
- 1. Anyone, including third parties, involved in data handling in EU can be held liable for any violation.
- 2. Data belonging to individuals who no longer want theirs processed must be erased.
- 3. Firms controlling large or sensitive data must appoint a professional to supervise the process.
- 4. Severe data breaches should be notified to the relevant national authorities within 72 hours of detection.
- 5. For children under a certain age using social media, parental consent is required.
- 6. Individuals have a right to records portability; they should be able to transfer their info quickly between services.
The implications of these vital compliance requirements point to the urgency for small businesses to adopt a GDPR-readiness plan, and to get you started, below is what you are required to do.
Why is GDPR compliance essential?
There are numerous reasons as to why you ought to be GDPR-compliant; from fines to compensation claims. For instance, accidental noncompliance can attract severe penalties of up to 4% of a company’s annual revenue or $24.2 million at time of writing, whichever is higher. As such, it might seem overwhelming at the beginning, and especially for businesses with less than robust resources, but in the end, it is worth it. Indeed, no one wants to lose their data, get it stolen, damaged, misused or even shared without proper consent. As a result, GPDR helps you protect your consumers' data thereby growing their trust and hence adding value to your business.
Are you ready for GPDR?
Encryptions are recommended and can protect you from data violations that can attract hefty fines. For data access requests and proper processing, you also must use some appropriate processing notices to illustrate to your customers what you are doing with their data. Again, be sure to inform them about the duration you will hold their data, why your firm will have it and who can access it. Make your consent precise, clear and transparent. Allow your clients to control how their information is being used, and let them choose whether or not to be on your mailing list. According to the GDPR, this must be purely a request, and most importantly, they should know how to withdraw from your database should they feel so.
Finally, data consent should regularly be reviewed. Conduct routine checks with your subscribers to ensure they wish to remain on your mailing list and document changes if any. Also, get in touch with data privacy regulators to understand how it can impact your business. Be sure also to assess the measures already in place and improve them if need be and get an expert if necessary.
Hiring Data protection officers (DPOs)
If your small business is not handling large volumes of personal data, it may be uneconomical to hire a full-time data protection officer (DPO). However, appoint someone to supervise the protection exercise or a virtual DPO if reliable. An expert can train your entire team to spot data breaches and report them within the set duration. Your employees should also understand the need to communicate any mistakes or breach even from within your firm.
Again, do not forget to review your contracts with third-party vendors. Set a meeting and inquire for an explanation on how they intend to use your company data. Ask what procedures they have in place to meet the regulations and how that company will address violations if any. Besides, you could also be penalized for a third-party customer data mishandling.
Proving to existing and potential customers that you respect their loyalty and are compliant with the new data protection regulations will not only prevent costly mistakes, but it also demonstrates your commitment to earning their trust, and eventually, this can translate to a built customer base and hence more profits.