Below are some of the most common questions and answers about GDPR, including links to more information.
What is the GDPR?
The General Data Protection Regulation is a European Union law that was implemented May 25, 2018, and requires organizations to safeguard personal data and uphold the privacy rights of anyone in EU territory. The regulation includes seven principles of data protection that must be implemented and eight privacy rights that must be facilitated. It also empowers member state-level data protection authorities to enforce the GDPR with sanctions and fines. The GDPR replaced the 1995 Data Protection Directive, which created a country-by-country patchwork of data protection laws. The GDPR, passed in European Parliament by overwhelming majority, unifies the EU under a single data protection regime.
Read our summary of the GDPR for an overview of the law.
Who must comply with the GDPR?
Any organization that processes the personal data of people in the EU must comply with the GDPR. “Processing” is a broad term that covers just about anything you can do with data: collection, storage, transmission, analysis, etc. “Personal data” is any information that relates to a person, such as names, email addresses, IP addresses, eye color, political affiliation, and so on. Even if an organization is not connected to the EU itself, if it processes the personal data of people in the EU (via tracking on its website, for instance), it must comply. The GDPR is also not limited to for-profit companies.
Find more information about who must comply with the GDPR here.
What are the GDPR fines?
The GDPR allows the data protection authorities in each country to issue sanctions and fines to organizations it finds in violation. The maximum penalty is €20 million or 4% of global revenue, whichever is higher. Data protection authorities can also issue sanctions, such as bans on data processing or public reprimands.
Read more about how GDPR fines are assessed.
How do I comply with the GDPR?
Organizations can comply with the GDPR by implementing technical and operational safeguards to protect personal data they control. The first step is to conduct a GDPR assessment to determine what personal data they control, where it is located, and how it is secured. They must also adhere to the privacy principles outlined in the GDPR, such as obtaining consent and ensuring data portability. You may also be required to appoint a Data Protection Officer and update your privacy notice, among other organizational measures.
Review our GDPR checklist to learn more about the steps to compliance.
What is a Data Protection Officer?
A Data Protection Officer (DPO) is an employee within your organization who is responsible for understanding the GDPR and ensuring your organization’s compliance. The DPO is the main point of contact for the data protection authority. Typically, the DPO has knowledge of both information technology and law.
Learn more about the Data Protection Officer role here.
Does the GDPR require encryption?
The GDPR requires organizations to implement “appropriate technical and organizational measures” to secure personal data and provides a short list of options for doing so, including encryption. In many cases, encryption is the most feasible method of securing personal data. For instance, if you regularly send emails within your organization that contain personal information, it may be more efficient to use an encrypted email service than to anonymize the information each time.