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An Introduction to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Data pervades every area of our lives. From social media firms to banks, shops, and governments, almost every activity we engage in today involves the gathering and processing of our personal data. 

Other organizations collect, examine, and keep our names, location, credit card information, and other personal information.

Customers may be unwittingly handing over their personal information to hackers and scammers, but owing to GDPR, which has regulated how companies and other entities receive and handle data, this is no longer the case.

But what is GDPR, and how will it actually impact you as a customer and a business owner? Let’s have a peek at the GDPR meaning.

Overview of the General Data Protection Regulation

As seen in the title above, GDPR is the acronym for General Data Protection Regulation. The European Union has put it in place to defend its states parties from wasteful and unethical information exploitation.

In plain terms, the General Data Protection Regulation is a new set of EU legislation designed to offer people more control over their personal data.

Its goal is to simplify the corporate regulatory environment so that EU residents and enterprises may benefit greatly from digitalization.

The goal of the data protection laws is to safeguard natural people's fundamental rights and freedoms, particularly when it comes to their personal data.

Along with its implementation, all entities conducting business with European nations and residents must comply with a series of additional regulations.

Who is Affected by GDPR?

GDPR affects countries all across the world, not just those in Europe. 

The GDPR applies to enterprises and organizations operating in the EU and outside of the EU that provide products and services to customers and businesses in the EU.

This indicates that all businesses marketing to EU citizens must adhere to GDPR guidelines. Despite its origins in the EU, GDPR can be applied to enterprises located anywhere in the world. So, if a US company does business in the EU, GDPR may apply, as well as if the company is a controller of Eu members.

What Does GDPR Compliance Entail?

Data can be misplaced, stolen, or transferred into the clutches of malicious individuals. As a result, the EU has enacted tough laws and regulations that firms must adhere to in order to safeguard their customers.

Organizations must not only make sure that the personal information is gathered legally and under stringent conditions under the GDPR, but they must also secure it from abuse and protect the dignity of the data subjects. Otherwise, they risk facing penalties that could severely harm their firm.

Key Principles of the European Union's GDPR

If you process data, you must follow the GDPR's Article 5 data protection and accountability standards.

Here are the seven principles of the General Data Protection Regulation of 2018.

1. Lawfulness, impartiality, and visibility

You must process the data in a legal, fair, and transparent manner for the data subject.

2. Limitation of purpose

Information processing must be limited to legitimate reasons that are explicitly stated.

3. Minimization of data

Only gather and analyze the information as much as is required for the indicated purposes.

4. Accuracy

Personal information collected must be up to date and relevant.

5. Storage space constraint

Only keep data for as long as it is required.

6. Confidentiality and integrity

To maintain proper security, integrity, and confidentiality, the data processing must be treated with extreme caution.

7. Accountability

Keep in mind that you are responsible for any mistakes you make when dealing with consumers' sensitive information.

Processor vs Controller in GDPR

The Act relates to two different sorts of data handlers: Data Processors and Data Controllers.

A data controller under the GDPR is a lawful individual, public body, agency, or other body that, alone or in collaboration with others, determines the objectives and means of processing personal data whose purposes and means are established by Union or Member State law.

On the other hand, a GDPR data processor is a natural or legal entity, public body, agency, or other body that processes information on behalf of the controllers.

It works with the information provided by the data controller. In the collecting and processing of data, the entity has chosen to cooperate with a third party.

Processors are given a greater level of a legal obligation under GDPR if the organization's data is breached.

GDPR Personal Data Definition

In the GDPR, personal data refers to any information that can be used to directly or indirectly identify an individual.

Personal data under GDPR can include things like a person's name, home, phone number, and credit card number.

It could also be sensitive personal data like racial or ethnic origin, political ideas, religious beliefs, genetic information, biometric information, health data, and other confidential material that could be used to uniquely identify a person.

Not just that, but the GDPR expands the definition of personal data to include less visible information like IP addresses and browser IDs.

Effectual Date of GDPR 

The European Commission announced plans in January 2012 to reform the data protection act from across European Union in order to adapt to the digital age, and one of the main components is the implementation of GDPR, which would impose on all institutions in all member countries, corporations and people alike, across Europe and even beyond.

The European Parliament approved the GDPR in April 2016 after four years of preparation and debate, with the formal texts and regulations of the directive released in all of the EU's official languages in May 2016.

On May 25, 2018, the General Data Protection Rule (GDPR) went into effect, forcing all enterprises to comply with the new European Union regulation.

GDPR's Importance for Consumers

GDPR is unquestionably a game-changer in terms of data protection. It gives clients control over how they give away their data and ensures that their personal information is protected.

Customers can feel at peace when it comes to releasing their personal information thanks to GDPR's requirements.

Customers will have better access to their personal data and will be informed about how their data is utilized.

Customers also have the option of opting in or out of the central database. GDPR clarifies the 'right to be forgotten' process, giving people more rights and freedoms if they don't want their data removed from other people's systems.

Customers have a right to know whether their data has been hacked.

Organizations must notify the relevant supervisory body as quickly as feasible so that EU citizens can take reasonable action to prevent their personal information from being misused.

Notification of a Data Breach Under the GDPR

GDPR mandates that all businesses report specific kinds of data breaches involving unauthorized access to or loss of personal information.

If a corporation loses data, whether as a consequence of cybercrime, human mistake, or something else, the business is required to notify those affected as well as the supervisory authority.

Businesses and other groups are required to report any violations that may jeopardize customers' rights and freedoms, result in discrimination, harm consumer reputation, result in financial loss, failure of confidentiality, or result in any other social or economic hindrance.

In other words, if a customer's name, location, birth date, health records, bank account information, or any other personal data is breached deliberately, the association is expected to notify people impacted, as well as the appropriate regulatory agency, in order to mitigate or prevent the damage.

The breach notice must be sent to the victims directly. It must be communicated not only through a press statement, social media, or a corporate website, but also through one-on-one interaction with those who are affected.

A potential data breach must be disclosed to the appropriate supervisory authority within 72 hours of the organization's discovery. If the incident is significant indeed, the audience must be told, and consumers must be held accountable as soon as possible.

The notification must provide approximations of the breach's details, such as data types, the number of people whose personal data was stolen as a result of the attack, and the number of personal data records affected.

The firm must also offer a summary of the potential repercussions of the data breach, such as money theft and identity fraud, as well as a description of the steps being taken to address the data breach and mitigate any negative effects that may be experienced by consumers.

Customers should be given the contact information of the security officer if they have any further queries about the data breach.

Officers in Charge of Data Protection

A Data Protection Officer (DPO) is not required for every data processor or controller. You only need to appoint a DPO if you meet the following criteria:

  • If you're a government agency that isn't a court operating in a judicial capacity

  • Your company is large-scale, processing data relating to particular categories listed under Article 9, such as felony offenses and offenses listed under Article 10 of the GDPR.

You can still choose to appoint a DPO even if it isn't needed because there are advantages to having somebody in this position.

Your DPO can assist your business in comprehending the GDPR law, instructing employees on their responsibilities, performing data protection training, auditing GDPR compliance, and maintaining GDPR compliance.

Non-Compliance With The GDPR Can Result in Fines And Penalties

Fines are determined by the intensity of the breach and whether or not the company or organization took GDPR compliance seriously. 

Failure to comply with the GDPR law might result in a fine ranging from 10 million euros to 4% of the company's worldwide yearly turnover.

Companies that mismanage data in other ways, such as failing to report data breaches, failing to create privacy by design, failing to guarantee data protection at the first stage of a project, and failing to appoint a DPO if the institution is one of those required by GDPR, will face a lower fine of 10 million euros or 2% of global turnover.

Infringements of customers' rights, unlawful international data transfers, and failing to put mechanisms in place for subject user access for his or her data can result in a maximum punishment of 20 million euros or 4% of global revenue, whichever is higher.

The GDPR Has Resulted in a Number of Fines To Date

As of January 2020, there have been a total of 160,921 data breaches recorded between May 2018 and currently.

Despite the documented personal data breaches, the GDPR has issued fines totaling over €175 million so far.

The highest GDPR fine to date was €50 million, which was imposed on Google, Inc in January 2019 after the European Commission determined that the search engine giant had violated GDPR laws regarding transparency and having a sound legal foundation when collecting people's data for promotional purposes.

Many more fines are likely to be imposed in 2020, as regulators and supervisors across Europe beef up their investigative teams in order to investigate numerous cases.

How To Comply With The GDPR

You must review your present data technologies, policies, and practices required to conform with GDPR rules. Know what types of information you can gather and how you should store it.

Be aware of the tools and technologies available to protect your clients' data as a business owner. Examine current data-related policies, such as encryption, network access, sensitive data, and data breaches. Consider hiring a third-party data security firm to conduct an independent assessment.

Furthermore, to comply with GDPR standards, identify risks and gaps, and then investigate methods to avoid or close such gaps.

Also, inform your employees about GDPR regulations and the significance of adhering to them.

Finally, even if your business is not obligated to do so, appoint a privacy officer to ensure adequate supervision of the collection and preservation of private information, as well as strict adherence to GDPR standards.


In a nutshell, GDPR, despite being designed and approved by the European Union, is the harshest data privacy regulation in the world, imposing authority on enterprises all over the world.

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