What is the GDPR?

GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation. It is a law designed to enhance data protection for residents of the European Union (EU) regardless of where they reside.

When did GDPR come into effect?

The GDPR was approved and adopted by the EU Parliament in April 2016. The regulation took effect after a two-year transition period and, unlike a Directive, did not require any legislation to be passed by government. GDPR came into force on May 25th, 2018.

Who does the GDPR affect?

The GDPR not only applies to organizations located within the EU but also applies to organizations located outside of the EU if they offer goods or services to, or monitor the behavior of, EU data subjects. It applies to all companies processing and holding the personal data of data subjects residing in the European Union, regardless of the company's location.

What are the penalties for non-compliance?

Organizations can be fined up to 4% of annual global turnover for breaching GDPR or €20 Million (EURO). This is the maximum fine that can be imposed for the most serious infringements e.g. not having enough customer consent to process data or violating the core of Privacy by Design concepts. There is a tiered approach to fines e.g. a company can be fined 2% for not having their records in order (article 28), not notifying the supervising authority and data subject about a breach or not conducting impact assessment. It is important to note that these rules apply to both controllers and processors – meaning 'clouds' are not exempt from GDPR enforcement.

What constitutes personal data?

The GDPR applies to ‘personal data’, meaning any information relating to an identifiable person who can be directly or indirectly identified by reference to an identifier. This definition provides for a wide range of personal identifiers to constitute personal data, including name, identification number, location data or online identifier, reflecting changes in technology and the way organizations collect information about people.

What is the difference between a data processor and a data controller?

A controller is the entity that determines the purposes, conditions and means of the processing of personal data, while the processor is an entity which processes personal data on behalf of the controller.

Do data processors need 'explicit' or 'unambiguous' data subject consent – and what is the difference?

The conditions for consent have been strengthened, as companies are no longer able to utilize long illegible terms and conditions full of legalese. The request for consent must be given in an intelligible and easily accessible form, with the purpose for data processing attached to that consent, meaning it must be unambiguous. Consent must be clear and distinguishable from other matters and provided in an intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language. It must be as easy to withdraw consent as it is to give it. ​ Explicit consent is required only for processing sensitive personal data – in this context, nothing short of "opt in" will suffice. However, for non-sensitive data, "unambiguous" consent will suffice.

How does GDPR affect marketing strategies?

Data plays a critical part in both digital and direct marketing strategies and therefore marketers must ensure they have demonstrated clear compliance and consent. CMOs and marketers must demonstrate how the data subject has consented to the processing of their personal data. Marketing databases must be cleansed and reviewed to ensure that the organization can identify consent which has been granted lawfully and fairly. Although GDPR only affects citizens living in the European Union, it is recommended that companies that operate internationally ensure all their global audience is GDPR compliant to meet stringent data regulations in the future.

How can I find out more information?

Merit Systems LLC is holding two GDPR Compliance Executive Seminars on June 26th, 2019 at Penn State Great Valley. The seminars are from 9:30 - 11:30 AM and 1:30 - 3:30 PM. You can register for them here. If you want to contact one of our representatives, you can do so here.