In May of 2018, the European Union put the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) into effect.
Soon afterwards, the United States and other countries began implementing privacy policies and laws that closely mirrored the regulations outlined in the GDPR requirements.
Remember that your business does not have to be based in the EU in order to be held to the obligations of the GDPR. If you collect/track the data of any site visitor or consumer from the EU, you must follow the GDPR.
We know -- the GDPR is complicated. Often, it can be especially difficult for American companies to understand whether or not they're fully GDPR compliant.
However, the fees for violating these privacy laws can be quite steep.
Read on to learn more about how to follow the data privacy and collection guidelines specified in the GDPR. These steps can help ensure you're GDPR compliant. (Please consult your lawyer for detailed instructions on how you can become GDPR compliant - do not consider this legal advice).
1. Provide Privacy Notices
A foundational step towards helping ensure you're GDPR compliant is to send out and/or update privacy notices to your clients regarding your collection of their personal data.
In this sense, "personal data" refers to any kind of personal information about an individual. It doesn't matter whether this information is public, private, or relates to an individual's professional life in some way.
Personal data can include things like their home and email address, browser history and IP address, medical information, bank information, and even posts on social media.
The privacy notices should tell your customers/site visitors why you're collecting their data, what you plan to do with it, how long you'll have it, where you'll store it, and how they can access it.
Additionally, remember that clients need to confirm that they accept and understand the fact that you're seeing and potentially sharing their personal data. It's not enough to offer that they can "opt out" of this -- in order to be compliant with the GDPR, they must actively confirm that they understand and choose to "opt-in" (you cannot pre-fill a box that they could inadvertently opt-in through - it must be unchecked by default.)
Remember that you'll not only need to be able to follow the requirements of GDPR but also to prove that you're in compliance at all times.
2. Get Serious About Security
Security goes hand-in-hand with the concept of data privacy.
Remember that it is your responsibility to take all the necessary steps required to keep that personal data private and secure, and to prevent it from falling into the hands of those who you have not specified in the privacy notice.
This means using secure email, encrypting data, investing in superior data management and IT security programs, and much more. Much like the HIPAA laws in the United States, if you're in violation of the GDPR because a hacker took control of your data somehow, you will still be held responsible.
This is because it is expressly your responsibility to take every possible action to keep data secure.
3. Plan for a Potential Breach
It's certainly no secret that hacking and data breaches have been consistently on the rise for the past few years.
In fact, hackers and other cybercriminals often have little trouble staying ahead of technology.
This means that, even if you do everything you can to keep hackers out, you could still have to deal with a security breach. You need to have a strong plan of action in place for what you'll do if any of your data becomes compromised.
The plan needs to include how you'll communicate the fact that a breach occurred to anyone impacted -- and regulators -- within a 72-hour period. It should also outline what steps you'll take to detect and stop a potential breach, as well as how you plan to avoid them in the future.
4. Know How to Delete Customer Data
Remember that your GDPR compliance checklist should also outline the ways in which you will delete a client's personal data if they request it. Under new privacy laws individuals have new rights, like the right to be forgotten under the GDPR.
Make sure that you understand when you are and are not required to delete this data, and know how you will be able to show your customers proof of said deletion.
5. Be Ready for Data Access Requests
Finally, realize that those protected by the GDPR have a legal right to know the kinds of personal data that you've collected about them.
In fact, they are even allowed to make a request for a copy of their data. This happens far more often than you might think, and if you don't have a plan in place for how you'll provide these copies, you could end up with a workload spike that is hard to handle.
You must provide them with a copy of their data in an electronic format within 30 days of their request. So, resource planning is crucial.
Need Help Scaling your GDPR Compliance?
As you've learned from this post, there is much that you need to do and consider to help ensure that you're GDPR compliant.
The sooner you start putting these practices into place, the better off you'll be. You should also prepare to frequently review and update your practices, and will be expected to remain compliant with any updates/changes to the GDPR and other data privacy regulations.
Are you looking for advanced automation that will help you follow the GDPR?
We can help you with that.
Reach out to us today, and request a demo to learn more about what we have to offer. We would love to help you take care of your customers and your company's data privacy automation needs.