10 Steps to Preparing Your Business for the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)
At first glance, it may seem that the GDPR only applies to large, global companies that conduct a lot of business overseas. But that's a false perception that could harm a lot of small businesses. No matter the size of your company, if you collect any kind of personal data on citizens in the European Union, from email addresses to medical records, you are legally required to comply with GDPR regulations. Are you prepared?
The General Data Protection Regulation is a new set of rules amended to the current Data Projection Act that will soon be mandated for those businesses dealing with European consumers.
On May 25, 2018 the regulation insists on safeguarding the personal information of all citizens of European Union member states. While many businesses are already aligned with the specifications, it’s important to make sure your business has everything covered.
The truth is these new rules are aimed at large companies who deal in information as a source of revenue. Smaller businesses aren’t likely to be penalized the 4% of worldwide gross or 20 million Euros that large corporations will if they’re found in violation.
If you’re worried about having a mountain of work ahead of you to prepare, you shouldn’t be. If you’re unsure if you will be affected look for these key signals:
1. You deal in information as a commodity;
If the answer is no to both then you will be fine!
So what can you do just in case?
Here’s 10 steps your business can take to be best prepared for the GDPR, even if you are not physically located in the EU.
1. If your website has an online form that incudes a pre-checked box giving permission to receive promotional emails from 3rd parties, this box now needs to be unchecked.
2. If your business conducts any form of list-building, ensure everyone on that list has given explicit permission to be in it. Under the Canadian PIPEDA, it was enough to have implied permission; however, if any EU residents are in your database, the rules are much more firm that provides subscribers with the right to obtain the information stored on them.
3. Make sure your entire staff is aware of the new rules. Circulate a memo to all personnel with a follow-up meeting where the points are reviewed. Asking a few questions to key players whose roles would be most affected by the new rules is a great way to ensure they’re aware of what they need to do.
4. Audit all stored client/customer info and track where you got it from and where it’s been used. Keep a record of every bit of info and who you may have passed it to at any time, and document the relationship and reasoning.
6. Have a clear method in place to address requests for erasing a user’s data. Under the DPA, users already had certain rights but the GDPR takes it further with information rights pertaining to their data stored by your business.
7. Have a process in place for handing over large volumes of requests. Previously under the DPA businesses had 40 days to comply with a request. That has been shortened to one month. Any lawful request must be fulfilled though if there are a large number of requests and the suspected reasoning is to cause problems for your business then these requests can be contested legally.
8. Have your lawful reasoning for retaining user data or passing to others clearly stated for users and ensure the opt-in option is not pre-ticked or unclear. Users must have a clear understanding of why you want their data, what you do with it, and who you might share it with. And they must have the option to say no. This is separate from Terms and Conditions.
9. If your business deals with anyone under the age of 16 then you’ll need a parent or guardian’s permission to process any of the child’s data. This is very important and strictly regulated but at the same time if you’re not dealing in information as a commodity then you’re likely not going to have to worry.
10. Have steps in place to address a data breach. In the event that user’s data may be compromised you will need to have a way to let all affected users know what was compromised and when. Assigning someone internally the task of coordinating the response is a great idea.
And that’s it! As you can see it’s a big business problem and more so rooted in user protection in Europe where social networks have been cited as problematic and susceptible to foreign influence.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Susan Friesen, founder of the award-winning web development and digital marketing firm eVision Media, is a Web Specialist, Business & Marketing Consultant, and Social Media Advisor. She works with entrepreneurs who struggle with having the lack of knowledge, skill and support needed to create their online business presence.
If you are new to Social Media and online marketing or find it overwhelming and confusing, my monthly group coaching program, AMPLIFY! Business Academy http://amplifybusinessacademy.com/ is a perfect way for you to incrementally learn the best strategies and tactics to help you grow your business online.