Almost every aspect of our lives deals with data in some way. By 2025, the world could be producing 463 EB (exabytes, a unit equaling 1 billion gigabytes) of data each day. That’s why it’s more crucial than ever to keep personal data safe yet easily accessible to those allowed to view it.

The General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, is a robust data protection law for companies within Europe — specifically the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA). Inspired by the European Convention on Human Rights, the GDPR is privacy-based. It's the replacement for the Data Protection Directive, which was the set of previous data privacy laws. It governs any organization that takes part in data processing activities, particularly the processing of personal data.

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Table of Contents

  1. The GDPR Affects the Entire World
  2. GDPR Compliance Includes Respecting 8 Consumer Rights
  3. You May Need a Representative in the EU
  4. The GDPR Governs Most Personal Data
  5. Opt-Out has Become Opt-In for “Consent First” Data Collection
  6. You Must Quickly Report Data Breaches
  7. There are No Legal Loopholes to Avoid GDPR Regulations
  8. Consumers Have the Right to Access Their Data
  9. Some Companies May Need a Data Protection Officer
  10. GDPR Prioritizes Human Rights and Privacy
  11. The GDPR also Applies to Cloud-Based Storage
  12. Noncompliance with GDPR Regulations Carries Punitive Fines

1. The GDPR Affects the Entire World

You might assume that because the GDPR is a European law that you don’t need to comply if you're outside of Europe. However, any company that deals with the data of subjects or consumers in Europe, or stores any personal data that moves across Europe in any form, must comply with the GDPR. As it’s impossible to know where your consumers are at all times, it’s essential to ensure you are GDPR compliant to avoid breaching the rules.

2. GDPR Compliance Includes Respecting 8 Consumer Rights

These are the 8 rights for data subjects that you must respect to ensure lawfulness:

The right to access: All users must have access to their data whenever they request it — or within a reasonable timescale.

The right to be informed: If an organization makes changes to a user’s data, the organization must inform the user in full and in good time.

The right to transfer data to another provider: Users can determine who holds their data — also called "the right to data portability."

The right to be forgotten: Users can demand the erasure of any or all data held about them.

The right to object: Users can object to the way an organization is processing their data and demand that it stops.

The right to restrict data processing: Users can also determine which data organizations can process.

The right to be notified: Users have to be notified within 72 hours if a personal data breach occurs.

The right to rectification: If data held is inaccurate, users can demand that it’s rectified.

3. You May Need a Representative in the EU

Organizations that don’t already have a presence in the EU must designate an EU representative to liaise with the supervisory authorities and regulators there, should it be a requirement. It’s possible to hire third parties to act as representatives for U.S. companies that don’t have one.

4. The GDPR Governs Most Personal Data

The GDPR governs most data about individuals, including:

  • Personal identification information (PII) (e.g. name, address, date of birth, etc.)
  • Information on race and ethnicity
  • Health data, including genetics
  • Biometric data
  • Data collected by websites, including IP addresses and cookie data
  • Sexual orientation
  • Political affiliation or opinion
  • Any other information that could be considered a personal identifier

5. Opt-Out has Become Opt-In for “Consent First” Data Collection

Previously, organizations might have thought it was okay to store data or add consumers to mailing lists unless they opted out. Today, consumers have to opt into having their data used in any fashion, creating a culture of consent. Data subjects have absolute rights over how you use their data.

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6. You Must Quickly Report Data Breaches

You must report data breaches that threaten consumer data privacy rights within 72 hours, and you must inform data subjects as soon as possible. Having a data breach incident process in place can prevent serious legal ramifications and loss of faith among your users. Proper cybersecurity measures can help prevent data breaches.

7. There are No Legal Loopholes to Avoid GDPR Regulations

The GDPR is incredibly robust and all-encompassing, so there are no legal loopholes or ways of getting around it. Companies that breach the rules or lack compliance will face consequences. Your Data Privacy Policy should be transparent, clearly defined, and easily accessible if you're to remain compliant.

8. Consumers Have the Right to Access Their Data

Data subject access requests are requests from users asking you to explain where you are storing their data and how you are using it, or they may be inquiries about any other facet of their data. Companies are legally obliged to comply with these requests, and they must erase a user’s data if requested or correct it if there are errors.

9. Some Companies May Need a Data Protection Officer

If you process large volumes of data, including personal data, or you are a public authority with large-scale data processors, you will need to hire a dedicated Data Protection Officer (DPO). The DPO or data controller oversees the data protection strategy within your organization, including monitoring data storage and any data transfers.

10. GDPR Prioritizes Human Rights and Privacy

The core of the GDPR is the privacy and protection of personal data. No matter how challenging adjusting to these changes may be for your organization, users’ rights must be at the heart of every decision you make about customer data.

11. The GDPR also Applies to Cloud-Based Storage

It should go without saying, but in today’s digital business world, the GDPR covers every single bit of data held on the Cloud. If you use a third-party data storage solution, you cannot assume that it will take all the responsibility for data security. Many service providers work on a shared responsibility model, ensuring that users understand their responsibility to protect personal data.

12. Noncompliance with GDPR Regulations Carries Punitive Fines

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As well as building trust with your users and protecting your organization’s reputation, following GDPR compliance avoids hefty penalties. The EU data authorities can fine companies up to $22.1 million or 4% of the company’s global turnover. So it makes good business sense to keep your teams informed on current legislation governing data privacy, such as the GDPR.

An ETL solution like Xplenty can help you with GDPR compliance by allowing you to collate all your organization’s data into one destination, in one unified format. This allows you to maintain a high level of data governance, protecting your users’ sensitive data and safeguarding against costly data breaches. Schedule a conversation with Xplenty to find out how our ETL tool can help you become compliant with GDPR and other data regulations.