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How to ensure your business complies with EU’s GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a policy concerned with protecting personal information of all citizens of European Union member states.



The General Data Protection Regulation is a new set of rules amended to the current Data Protection 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 the European Union member states. While many businesses are already aligned with the specifications, it’s important to make sure your business has everything covered.

This article takes a look at what you need to have in place in order to avoid being found in violation of the GDPR.

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 percent of worldwide gross or €20 million 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;

2. You request user’s data when they complete a purchase and use the data elsewhere or store it;

3. You deal with one or more European countries.

If the answer is all three, then you will be fine!

So what can you do just in case?

Here are 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 includes a pre-checked box giving permission to receive promotional emails from third 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 to provide 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.

Update your company policies with GDPR laws in order to inform your employees with such changes.

Update your company policies with GDPR laws in order to inform your employees of such changes. (Source)

5. Update your privacy policy so it includes the reasoning for retaining any user data, how it is legally used, and how users can contact your business if they feel their user information is in any way being misused.

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.

These rights consist of:

– the right to be informed

– the right of access

– the right to rectification

– the right to erasure

– the right to restrict processing

– the right to data portability

– the right to object

– the right not to be subject to automated decision-making including profiling

You will need to be able to provide all this information in a clear and machine-readable format (not in handwriting).

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.

North America is not really affected much, but the issue is still very newsworthy, which can make some small business owners nervous when they don’t need to be. In saying that, this article from Small Business BC points out some seemingly harmless potential data breaches that could put you at risk of violation such as sending out greeting cards to customers living in the EU.

DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation in writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.

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. As a result of working with Susan and her team, clients feel confident and relieved knowing their online marketing is in trustworthy and caring hands so they can focus on building their business with peace of mind at having a perfect support system in place to guide them every step of the way.