What Is GDPR?

As cybercrime and security breaches increased over the last decade, nations have begun to take action in protecting users’ personal information. The most comprehensive action taken has been the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) policy. This privacy regulation policy was created with the goal of harmonizing data laws across Europe and ensuring greater control over personal information and user data.

The GDPR is quite simply the toughest privacy and security law in the world. It comes with stiff penalties of up to 4% of global revenue for businesses that violate the law, even if you don’t operate in the European Union. It covers a number of security factors including: 

  • Lawfulness, fairness, and transparency – Data processing must be lawful, fair, and transparent to the data subject.
  • Purpose limitation – You must process data for the legitimate purposes specified explicitly to the data subject when you collected it.
  • Data minimization – You should collect and process only as much data as absolutely necessary for the purposes specified.
  • Accuracy – You must keep personal data accurate and up to date.
  • Storage limitation – You may only store personally identifying data for as long as necessary for the specified purpose.
  • Integrity and confidentiality – Processing must be done in such a way as to ensure appropriate security, integrity, and confidentiality (e.g. by using encryption).
  • Accountability – The data controller is responsible for being able to demonstrate GDPR compliance with all of these principles.

The GDPR also includes a list of data subject rights, including:

  • The right to be informed – You must inform individuals about your use of their data.
  • The right to access – You must give individuals access to any of their data that you hold.
  • The right to accuracy – Individuals can ask you to correct inaccurate data.
  • The right to disappear – Also known as the ‘right to erasure’, this right allows an individual to request that any of their personal data a company has collected be deleted across all systems that use or share it.
  • The right to minimization – An individual can ask that you suppress or restrict their data. 
  • The right to portability – An individual can ask for their data to be transferred to another company.
  • The right to privacy from third parties – An individual can object to their data being used for various uses including direct marketing.

Although GDPR regulations are focused on European policy, it is essential for US businesses, especially digital companies, to be compliant. The stakes are high for agencies that depend on personal information to better engage with various marketing activities, and these laws are holding companies accountable for data protection.

Even if you’re not doing business with European vendors and are not required to be legally compliant at the moment, this is the future of business practices 101. As your company continues to boom, you have a responsibility to 1) assure clients you understand the importance of consent and privacy, and 2) guarantee that their personal data is protected by an up-to-date security standard.

GDPR is a policy sculpted for user protection. Yes, it can be a painstaking process that can create complexities for website owners — but understand that this legislation is only making our websites and businesses better by rightfully requiring us to think carefully about the interactions we have with our clients and how we treat them. It’s important for digital leaders to support these security principles by not only “pinky-promising” consumer protection, but also instating rock-solid data policy.